GONZALES — Two four-foot trophies sat center stage Sunday in Jambalaya Park.
The trophies were the centerpieces for a celebration of two national titles won by Center Stage Performing Arts Academy’s Stars Company.
The group brought the two national cups home after the five-day Access Broadway Cup Series in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month.
The Center Stage Stars Company had multiple winners in the varied categories and also won both the “Broadway Cup” and the “Las Vegas Cup” — a first in the Access Broadway championship’s 17-year history. The awards go to the top dance studio and performing arts program among the studios competing at Access Broadway.
“We’re so proud of our kids for not only what they did on the stage, but how gracious they were off the stage,” Center Stage owner Larry Schexnaydre said. “They were so poised in a pressure-packed situation.”
It was the second time the group won a national title at Access Broadway, picking up the Broadway Cup four years ago.
This year, Schexnaydre said, the competition judges were impressed, “saying our kids can do everything.”
Schexnaydre and his wife and academy co-owner Linda Schexnaydre also praised their performers’ parents for their efforts in making costumes and props.
“Our parents are part of the program and we couldn’t do it without them,” Larry said. “You just don’t drop your kids off at Center Stage.”
He said more than 350 parents and relatives were in the audience for the performances.
The academy performed more than 150 routines in solo, duet, small group and large group categories. It brought its “Lion King” and “Mary Poppins” routines and the array of props that go with those shows to the competition stage, Linda Schexnaydre said.
The sets, props and chaos created when more than 100 performers prepare for a competition created a high-energy week for the Schexnaydres, the parents and performers, the couple said.
Linda Schexnaydre credited Stars Company assistant Alex Ambeau, 25, with making the chaotic backstage setting “work for everyone.”
“Yeah, she’s pretty awesome,” Linda Schexnaydre said of Ambeau.
Ambeau started at Center Stage as a student, became a teacher and now “is my right-hand everything,” Linda Schexnaydre said.
During Sunday’s celebration, parents, instructors and students received awards and watched video congratulations from past academy performers.
Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez proclaimed Sunday as “The Center Stage Stars Day” in Ascension Parish.
“It’s our day and we’re going to celebrate,” Larry Schexnaydre said.