Westfield Comes Up Big With 9 Rising Star Awards

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MILLBURN–Since their inception in 1996, the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theatre have ignited the careers of many notable performers, all of whom attended high school in New Jersey. Among the early nominees and winners are Academy Award® nominee Anne Hathaway, Tony® award winner Laura Benanti and 2011 Tony® nominee, Nikki M. James.

Westfield High School came out on top this year, taking nine Rising Star Awards and two scholarships when the awards were announced on Tuesday, June 7.

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“There is a new energy and level of excitement in high school musical theater right now,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director. “Due to television programs like Fox’s Glee, there is a new, invigorated interest and enthusiasm surrounding these projects. The culmination for many New Jersey high schools is the prestigious honor of a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star nomination and we are proud to present these awards to New Jersey schools.”

The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards – Presented by the Investors Savings Bank Foundation, are modeled after the Tony® Awards and Paper Mill Playhouse’s program serves the entire state of New Jersey with nearly 100 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools.

Paper Mill Director of Education, Lisa Cooney adds, “What’s happening in high school musical productions here in New Jersey and around the country is remarkable. Programs like the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards raise the bar and create opportunities for student performers and theatre technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarship money. We consistently hear from top tier colleges and casting directors that the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award is a significant accolade for an aspiring theatre artist.”

Paper Mill Playhouse also awarded $5,000 in scholarships at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards- Presented by the Investors Savings Bank Foundation. Four $1,000 cash scholarships were given to outstanding individual students who plan to continue studying theatre in college, and a technical theatre scholarship of $1,000 is sponsored annually by Scaramouche Costumes, LLC.

Paper Mill Playhouse announced that a prize of $500 was given to Rahway High School (WEST SIDE STORY), who received the 2011 Educational Impact Award which acknowledges a school that successfully connects the musical to the district’s curriculum, using the production as a teaching tool for the greater student body and local community.

2011 Rising Star Award Winners

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Lindsay Dunn as “Millie Dillmount”
Wallkill Valley Regional High School
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
John Caliendo as “Tevye”
Point Pleasant Borough High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Rebecca Skowron as “Beggar Woman”
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Drew Gardner as “Angel Schunard”
Ridge High School
RENT: SCHOOL EDITION

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role
Peter Carmo as “Adolfo Pirelli”
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Member
Emily Grable as “Dream Laurey”
Cranford HIGH SCHOOL
OKLAHOMA!

Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Group
“The Stenographers”
Summit High School
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Outstanding Chorus
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Direction
Daniel Devlin
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Choreography & Musical Staging
Michelle Massa
Cranford High School
OKLAHOMA!

Outstanding Music Direction
Michael Cundari and Nicole Monte
Nutley High School
CANDIDE

Outstanding Orchestra
Howell High School
ANYTHING GOES

Outstanding Scenic Achievement
Roy Chambers
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Lighting Achievement
Michael Kimmel and Lisa Weinshrott
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Outstanding Costuming Achievement
Paul H. Canada and Beth Holland
Gill St. Bernard’s School
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

Outstanding Hair & Make-up Achievement
Eastern Regional High School
CATS

Outstanding Lobby Display
Agnes Irizarry and Carol Kravette
Hillsborough High School
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Outstanding Graphic Design
Paul Gaschler
Union High School
DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Educational Impact Award
Rahway High School
WEST SIDE STORY

The Rising Star “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion & Access Award
Passaic County Technical Institute
HAIRSPRAY

Student Achievement Awards

Student Achievement Award
Jacob Schmitz
Stage Manager
Columbia High School
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Student Achievement Award
Stage Crew
Columbia High School
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Student Achievement Award
Esmeralda Fyhr
Costume Design and Costume Shop Head
Cranford High School
OKLAHOMA!

Student Achievement Award
Rachel Butensky
Wardrobe Crew
Morristown-Beard School
OKLAHOMA!

Student Achievement Award
Gioia Kelleher
Wardrobe Crew
Morristown-Beard School
OKLAHOMA!

Student Achievement Award
Ben Tolles
Stage Manager
Summit High School
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Student Achievement Award
Running Crew
Summit High School
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Student Achievement Award
Miguel Urbino
Graphic Arts
West Orange High School
HAIRSPRAY

Student Achievement Award
Jill Salisbury
Assistant Technical Director
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Student Achievement Award
Tzvetelina Garneva
Stage Manager
Westfield High School
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Rising Star Award Scholarships

The Investors Savings Bank Foundation Rising Star Awards Scholarship
Christopher Morrissey
Westfield High School

Tiffany & Co. Rising Star Awards Scholarship
Benjamin Chavez
Bergen County Academies

The Jane Burgio Memorial Scholarship for the Rising Star Awards
Robyn Stein
Hillsborough High School

The Douglas M. Krueger Scholarship Fund for the Rising Star Awards
Katherine Scott
Red Bank Catholic High School

The Scaramouche Technical Theatre Scholarship for the Rising Star Awards
Jill Salisbury
Westfield High School


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