Sweeney Todd kicks off Freddy Award season this weekend
The Freddy Awards kick off in weekend with Stephen Sondheim's dark musical "Sweeney Todd," presented by Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J. Thursday through Saturday.

The Freddy Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a record number of schools taking part in the State Theatre's annual awards for excellence in high school musical theater. Thirty schools in the Lehigh Valley and Warren County, N.J., are participating, including first-timer Nazareth Area High School, which will present the classic "Singin' in the Rain" in April.

"Fred X," as the State has named this season, will conclude with the live televised awards ceremony at 7 p.m. May 24 at the theater. To celebrate its decade of rewarding excellence in high school musical theater, the Freddys will welcome back past participants for a performance and hold a retrospective of the program's first decade during the live Tony-style TV broadcast.

The program began with 22 high schools in 2003. The awards program -- named after J. "Fred" Osterstock, a theater manager who died in 1957 and whose ghost is said to haunt the State Theatre -- is open to any high school in Lehigh and Northampton counties and Warren County, N.J.

Freddy alumni -- as many as want to participate -- have been invited to do a musical number during the show, says Shelley Brown, Freddy Awards executive producer.

She added she is a little nervous because thousands of students have participated and "they are all very connected."

Brown said this year's event also will have a half-hour pre-show about the Freddy Awards.

The 10th season actually began with Salisbury High School's show "Chess" in October. However the school was the only one to have a fall show and the rest of the musicals will be presented this weekend through April.

Here are the performances:


"Sweeney Todd," Blair Academy, 2 Park St., Blairstown, N.J. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16-18, tickets at door.

"Man of La Mancha," Moravian Academy Upper School, 4313 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24-25, 2 p.m. Feb. 26, tickets 610-691-1600.


"Hello Dolly," Bangor Area Senior High School, 187 Five Points Richmond Road. 7 p.m. March 1-3, 2 p.m. March 3, tickets connellc@bangorsd.rog.

"Cats," Southern Lehigh High School, 5800 Main St., Center Valley. 7:30 p.m. March 1-3, 2 p.m. March 4, tickets 484-919-3851. *March 2, 3, 4 shows sold out.

"Aida -- School Edition," Saucon Valley High School, 2100 Polk Valley Road, Hellertown. 7:30 p.m. March 1-3, 2 p.m. March 3 and 4, tickets 610-838-0961.

"Damn Yankees," Easton Area High School, 2601 William Penn Highway. 7 p.m. March 2, 2 and 7 p.m. March 3, 2 p.m. March 4, tickets 610-250-2481 ext. 32064.

"Barnum," Northwestern Lehigh High School, 6493 Route 309, New Tripoli. 7 p.m. March 8-10, 2 p.m. March 11, tickets 610-298-8661 ext. 2267.

"13," Belvidere High School, 809 Oxford St., Belvidere, N.J. 7 p.m. March 9, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. March 10, tickets 908-475-4025 ext. 200.