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The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Many+faculty+members+and+administrators+attended+the+BVD+Awards+to+support+Cohen.+Photo+by+Shiri+Cohen%2C+used+with+permission.+
Many faculty members and administrators attended the BVD Awards to support Cohen. Photo by Shiri Cohen, used with permission.

It’s the last performance of the night for the Brandon Victor Dixon (BVD) Awards. Shiri Cohen (‘24) steps up to the stage as a finalist for the Best Actress award at the National Theater and begins to sing “Last Midnight” from the musical “Into the Woods.” The crowd listens as she sings in the character of the witch from “Into the Woods,” every note sung with more emotion than the last.

The Brandon Victor Dixon Awards is a regional competition for nominated actors and actresses in the DMV area and is a qualifier for the Jimmy Awards, a national musical theater competition for high school students. Five actors and five actresses were nominated to be finalists, and the best actor and actress were chosen to represent the DMV area in the National Jimmy Awards. Cohen is the first actress to be nominated twice for best high school actress in a musical. 

“Being nominated the second year in a row was both a shock and such an honor as I didn’t realize that that was even an option,” Cohen said. “…Coming to the semifinals the second year, I felt a lot more calm. I knew what I was going into. I knew what I was doing. You still want to be a finalist. Every single person who was nominated is incredibly talented, but I did feel more confident and more secure in my song option and my abilities than I was last year.”

I saw one student from another school come running up to her saying that … she ‘cannot wait to see Shiri on Broadway.’

— David Solomon

Throughout the award process, judges determine the winner of the award through three of the nominees’ performances. The first performance is at the show, which for Cohen was “Into the Woods.” The second performance is the semi-final performance of a song that showcases the actor’s skills. Cohen chose “Still Hurting” from the musical “The Last Five Years.” Cohen chose this song because she says that it showcases her best qualities as a singer, namely emotion and range. The final performance was at the National Theater on May 25. 

The event itself was a full-day affair for the nominees. It was particularly special for Cohen, who follows Shabbat, so she stayed at a hotel nearby to accommodate her observance. The National Theater was very willing to work around Cohen’s Shabbat requirements. They put her last in the performance lineup so she could perform after Shabbat ended. 

Throughout the day, she rehearsed twice to prepare for the final performance. In addition to working on the song with Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon and music teacher Samuel Grob, she prepped her song on the National Theater stage before performing at night. 

“She gave by far the best performance of any of the rehearsals we’ve done so far,” Grob said. “She pulled it out, it was really terrific. She commanded the stage, she’d done this once before and added elements of humor we added, it was playful, and it had such depth to it. She sounded excellent. She has wonderful stage presence, great physicality, great character embodiment—people went wild for it.”

Cohen hopes to continue her musical theater career in the IDF, where she will be drafted into the IDF band as a singer. She will get to work with other instrumentalists and perform at IDF events. She hopes to continue to audition and perform in musicals in the future, showing no signs of slowing down. 

Cohen has been very involved in the theater program throughout all her years at JDS. She has starred in many musicals, with her main roles being Dolly in “Hello, Dolly!” and the witch in “Into the Woods.” Cohen learned the majority of her musical theater abilities at JDS and is grateful to Solomon for his work with her throughout the musicals she has performed in. 

“[Solomon] is a big supporter, and I owe so much of my experience and how positive this whole thing was to him,” Cohen said. “He is such an amazing director, and it’s really hard to believe that I’m not going to do another musical with him, at least not at JDS. But he is so incredible. JDS is so lucky to have him in the theater department, and I wish him all the best, and I really can’t wait to see the JDS theater department continue to grow and advance.”

Cohen is the first JDS representative at the BVD Awards, and Solomon is very proud of Cohen’s performance. As the Director of Arts Education, this is considered a major accomplishment for the program, as Solomon and the theater department have mentored Cohen throughout her high school musical theater career.

“It’s a wonderful legacy she has by participating in this program and being acknowledged by this program,” Solomon said. “It really put the JDS theater program on the map. So many people came up to her afterward. I saw one student from another school come running up to her saying that she had seen Shiri perform in both of the award ceremonies and the final programs and that she ‘cannot wait to see Shiri on Broadway.’”

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About the Contributor
Eliana Wolf
Eliana Wolf, Sports Editor
Eliana is pumped to be this year’s Sports Editor for Lions Tale. She has always had an affinity for sports, as she is on the Varsity Tennis, Winter Track, and Softball teams. She loves editing articles and is so excited to enhance the sports sections with engaging content. Eliana is also an active member of the Bohr-Franklin Science Journal and the STEM fellowship. In addition to Lion's Tale, you can find Eliana playing the piano, spending time with her family and friends, reading, and hiking in Rock Creek Park. She can’t wait to work with her co-editors to edit articles and design spreads for the section.  

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