The Tony’s of High School Theatre

Rouse Theatre sweeps this year’s HAYAs awards ceremony

More stories from Jenna Haynie


Photographer is Dave Hawks. The cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame perform “In A Place Of Miracles” on the Long Center Stage.

Rouse Theater was nominated for the following awards:

Best Production (winner)

Musical Direction (winner)


Costume Design (winner) 

Lighting Design

Technical Execution



Lead Performer, Male-JP Lopez (winner)

Lead Performer, Female-Kylie Hernandez

Supporting Performer, Male-Scott Bratton

Supporting Performer, Male-Langston Lee

Featured Performer, Individual-Owen Weaver

Best Student Stage Manager-Mikayla Stasny (winner)


After two years, the Heller Awards for Young Artists (or more commonly called the HAYAs), has returned in person on the Long Center stage. Since being interrupted by the pandemic in 2020, all previous ceremonies had been canceled and then transferred to an online streaming service, but students and directors could not be more thrilled to join together in person to celebrate live, high school theater once again. 

“The HAYAs are an award show for high schools in the Central Texas area who put on musicals,” senior JP Lopez said, “It’s basically a huge celebration of all the school’s hard work.”

This past January, Rouse put on a highly acclaimed production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the school auditorium. The entire cast and crew was made up of eager students who were ready to perform after the long hiatus of valuable lost stage time. 

“After being shut down because of covid, the class of 2022 has not been granted as many performance opportunities,” senior musical member, Kendall Featherstone said. “ Knowing that we would have the opportunity to be back on that stage this year, everyone’s work ethic and passion was completely elevated.”

Rouse had a total of 13 nominations and five awards. They even had the chance to perform one last time together on the Long Center stage, because of their ‘Best Production’ nomination, which they ended up winning. 

“The best production award resembles the high school musical that was well rounded in all aspects of a musical; from the lighting, direction and music to the choreography and ensemble. Whoever is nominated gets the opportunity to perform a number from their show on the Long Center Stage, which is a huge honor,” Featherstone said. “It is the highest award any high school can receive.”

Students nominated for a leading role were also given the opportunity to perform on stage in a medley with the fellow student nominees. Rouse had two students, Kylie Hernandez (Best Female Lead nominee) and JP Lopez (Best Male Lead nominee), on stage this year, for the first time in Rouse Theater history. Lopez, ended up leaving with the title of Best Male Lead for his role of Quasimodo, which will go down in Rouse High School history. 

“Performing in front of the Long Center stage in front of 2,500 people was so surreal and one that I wouldn’t have traded for the world,” senior Kylie Hernandez said, who played Gypsy Queen, Esmeralda. “Getting to perform alongside some of the most talented young women I’ve ever met was truly an honor and something I have taken as an experience to grow as a performer myself.”

The awards show happens annually in April and Rouse participates every year. Rouse Theater is continuing to work and produce award-winning performances and productions and is planning to come back even stronger next year. 

“I think there is definitely still room for us to improve, as always, but we are an extremely hardworking department and a group of people,” Featherstone said. “Everyone needs to watch out because Rouse is back and better than ever before.