CONYERS – Heritage High School shined at the 2017 Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards on Thursday night, bagging the coveted prize for Best Overall Production for its performance of “Les Misérables.”

The musical also won awards for Music Direction by Terrance Green and Best Performance by a Leading Actor by senior Ramone Nelson.

The ceremony is often referred to as the Tony Awards for the state’s high school theater programs and is also called the Shuler Hensley Awards in honor of Georgia native actor/singer Shuler Hensley. The show is produced by the ArtsBridge Foundation and was broadcast live on Georgia Public Broadcasting

The musical was directed by fine arts teacher Michelle Thorne who said the win was a unique mix of pride and humility.

“Victor Hugo said in his preface to “Les Misérables” that wherever misery and ignorance exist in the world, stories such as ‘Les Mis’ must be told,” she said in her acceptance speech for Overall Production.

“Thank you, ArtsBridge, Shuler Hensley and Georgia lottery for realizing that these stories must be told and who can tell them better than our eternal fountain of youth.”

Heritage High was also nominated for Ensemble and Best Performance by a Featured Actor. It also received honorable mention for lighting design, while student Arianna Hardaway received the Performers Warehouse Summer Intensive Scholarship.

The entire cast of the show also performed the song “One Day More” as one of the nominated acts of the night. Two students from Heritage and three from Salem High School were also a part of the Shuler Student Ensemble and the Students Take A Role (S.T.A.R.) Council. The Student Ensemble performed the opening and closing numbers at the show, while members of the S.T.A.R Council worked as production assistants. One hundred sixty-six actors and actresses from the state were a part of those student groups.

Heritage High will continue the celebration of its theater program, which has reached its 40th year, with a showcase of “Phantom of the Opera” on April 27-29 and May 5-6 at 7:30 p.m. and April 30 and May 7 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Rimal graduated from Troy University in 2016 with degrees in journalism and political science. She has since worked for the Rockdale/Newton Citizen newspapers primarily covering education.