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DHS students recognized for excellence in musical theater
Lawson  Brandt
INDIVIDUAL AWARD winners for the 2012 Tommy Awards are Alix Brandt, left, and TJ Lawson.

DARLINGTON—The outstanding student performance of “Oklahoma!” in 2011 earned 62 Darlington High School students “Tommy” Awards.
The third annual Tom Wopat Awards for Excellence in Musical Theater judges reviewed 44 musical productions and dozens of performers for their musical productions during the 2011-12 academic year. The recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Overture Hall at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison on Sunday, June 3, starting at 7 p.m. The ceremony will feature performances and production numbers from honorees in several categories.
The production of “Oklahoma!” was held at DHS Nov. 25-27, 2011. Leona Havens, director of “Oklahoma!” said this was the first year the school has participated in the awards program. Dodgeville High School’s musical director Dan Hemming recommended Darlington participate. Three judges—one for tech, lighting and costume; one for the performance; and one for the orchestra—attended a show and critiqued the students’ performance. DHS was one of 42 high schools to be judged.
From that production an ensemble of 60 students earned outstanding ensemble. TJ Lawson as Ali Hakim received outstanding supporting performer and Alix Brandt as Aunt Eller was named an honorable mention supporting performer.
The judges’ comments included, “What really came through loud and clear in the production was the humor. Alix Brandt as Aunt Eller was fiery and feisty; TJ Lawson as Ali Hakim really knew how to drop the line at just the right moment…” About the ensemble the judges wrote, “They remained strong and consistent throughout the whole production; they were well-rehearsed and a talented group. Their work elicited many emotional responses from the audience, a true sign the performers were invested in their work… The ensemble worked together to create a show where although the leads had strong stage presence, there were equally memorable supporting characters.”
Lawson, Brandt and the members of the ensemble will receive their awards during the ceremony. As an individual outstanding award winner, Lawson will be performing in the finale.
Tickets for the ceremony on June 3 in Madison are $17. They can be purchased by calling (608) 258-4141, from the ticket office at 201 State St., Madison, or online at
About Tommy Awards
Overture’s Tommy Awards are named in honor of local musical theater hero Tom Wopat, critically acclaimed and Tony Award-nominated singer and actor.  Born in Lodi, Wisconsin, Wopat first started singing and dancing in high school musicals, and studied music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before getting his “big break” in 1978 as Luke Duke in the immensely popular Dukes of Hazzard television show. He even directed several episodes during the show’s six-year run. He is currently starring in the Tony-nominated “Catch Me If You Can” on Broadway.