Tri-School’s “Matilda” nominated for Rita Moreno Awards


The Catalyst / Photo courtesy of Ben Krantz

Kavan Bhatia, Gabbie Jison and Venice Mayor (left to right) pose with their newly awarded RMAs.

Two weeks following their closing night, the cast and crew of the Tri-School production “Matilda” was notified that they had been nominated for best overall performance at the Rita Moreno Awards and that their lead actress, Gabbie Jison, had been nominated for best lead actress.

The show was held at San Jose’s Center for the performing arts. The awards are named after Rita Moreno, a trailblazing Puerto Rican actress notable for her lasting career both on camera and on stage. The awards show holds awards in five categories: overall production, fan favorite, lead actor, lead actress and supporting performer. The nominees were determined by eight adjudicators who attended the productions which applied. They then selected the finalists that would be nominated. The three designated judges will be judging the featured performances of the night.

“Matilda’s” directors created a medley of significant songs from the musical. They included moments with high energy and somber songs to show the wave of emotions the show brings. They rehearsed choreography one final time an hour before the show’s opening. Casts and other nominees gathered as they awaited their time to perform.

The show opened and a message from Rita Moreno herself was displayed. She apologized for her absence due to finding her next role.

“Matilda” was the last to perform out of the nominees for best overall production. Cast members
hastily touched up their makeup before heading backstage to perform.

The cast of “Matilda” struck their final pose, a wide stance with a fist in the air, their last time
ever performing together. The first act of the Rita Moreno Awards concluded and members of the audience cast their vote for fan favorite. The second act began with the lead actor showcase. As the judges returned to the podium, casts anxiously awaited the name of the fan-favorite winner, which was Saint Mary’s High School’s “Newsies” production. The next award was for best lead actress. Mercy HS junior Gabbie Jison performed “Matilda’s” beloved “Naughty” as her song. Cast members of the show anxiously awaited the winner when the judge
stood behind the podium.

When they heard their fellow cast member’s name called, the cast all stood up, applauding
Jison’s win. She entered the stage and gave her speech, thanking everyone involved with the production.

“Gabbie 100% deserved that award,” said junior Mia Meza. “She was so hardworking and insanely talented.”

Jison will be sponsored by the Rita Moreno Awards to join other talented high school performers at the Jimmy Awards. She will be exposed to valuable guidance from established Broadway professionals. At the end of the program, students will perform a showcase on a Broadway Stage. Jison will be performing alongside equally brilliant peers and will return with experience that is far from ordinary.