Students who competed in the STANJ Annual Governors Award pose with trophies in the Media Center
Students who competed in the STANJ Annual Governor’s Award pose with trophies in the Media Center
Courtesy of Courtney Reinfried

Success at STANJ

Theater Department wins 10 awards at state theater competition

On Saturday, January 6, the theater department competed in the annual Speech and Theater Association of New Jersey’s (STANJ) Annual Governor’s Awards Competition at Montclair State University. Students took home 10 awards across multiple categories, including First Place Best Play for their production of The Diary of Anne Frank

The Annual Governor’s Awards Competition is a statewide theater competition run by STANJ, a theater education organization. This year, 34 students in NVOT’s theater department competed against 34 different schools in categories like dramatic and comedic monologues and pair scenes, musical solos and pairs, and improv pairs. 

Each category is split up into four classrooms where the students compete. Once first round performances conclude, the judges in each room take the top three performers from each room to send to the finals round, resulting in 12 finalists for each category. The top six scorers in the finals are ultimately awarded. 

Students prepared for three months for the competition, practicing their monologues, scenes, and songs. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were able to select the categories and the pieces that they wanted to perform, while freshmen were assigned categories. While the preparation was intensive, it was collaborative in nature, with many participating in pair categories. Senior Gia Brockman said, “Any pair scene is my favorite to compete.” 

Watch the moment Roman Gatti and Zac Falkenstern are announced winners in the Improv Pairs category


Indeed, pairs proved to be a winning category for the department. Seniors Roman Gatti and Zac Falkenstern won First Place and the Governor’s Award in Improv Pairs. For Gatti and Falkenstern, the win was a culmination of three years entering the category. “We have always placed in the category, second sophomore year, third junior year and now first,” Gatti said. “It was awesome to finally do what we wanted to do for so long.”

Liana Farah (left) and Ava Gallucci (right) pose together after their win in the Dramatic Pairs Scene category (Courtney Reinfried)

While the wins were rewarding, the spirit of community at STANJ resonated the most with company members.“Sitting with everyone during the awards ceremony and seeing everyone supporting each other is my favorite part of STANJ,” junior Erica Young said.

Senior Ava Gallucci, who won sixth place in Dramatic Pairs Scene alongside Liana Farah, said, “I truly feel STANJ brings our community of theater people closer together, which only helps us as we go into the second semester of school and into musical season”.

The company now sets its eyes on the All School Musical Cats, which will run from March 1 to March 3. 



The full list of awards is as follows:

Students seated together ahead of the awards ceremony (Courtney Reinfried)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank: First Place Best Play
  • Lily Mitchell: Finalist Comedic Monologue
  • Liana Farah & Ava Gallucci: Sixth Place Dramatic Pairs Scene
  • Lilliana Mangano: Finalist Musical Solo
  • Sophia Ashbahian: Second Place Musical Solo
  • Sophia Ashbahian & Liana Farah: Third Place Musical Pair
  • Roman Gatti & Dylan Kirch: Second Musical Pair
  • Sofia Fonseca & Timothy Lee: Fourth Place Musical Pair
  • Lilliana Mangano: First Place Video in Communication Media Arts
  • Zac Falkenstern & Roman Gatti: First Place and Governor’s Award Improv Pair
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