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 former nominees and winners are Academy Award® nominee Anne Hathaway, Tony® award winner Laura Benanti, and 2011 Tony® Award winner, Nikki M. James.
Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy in Elizabeth received three Rising Star Award nominations for its production of Aida. For his portrayal of Mereb, Wakeem Jones was nominated for an award in the category Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. The show was also nominated for Outstanding Lighting Achievement, thanks to the work of Arianna Roman, and Outstanding Achievement in Lobby Display for the creativity of Ana Pineiro.
“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 and NBC’s Smash, 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. Additionally, many of Paper Mill Playhouse’s Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have also been nominees and winners of several prestigious industry awards while on Broadway or making films.”
The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards – Presented by the Investors 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 Playhouse conceived and created the awards in 1996 to give schools the opportunity to showcase their musical arts programs on a state level. The musicals are adjudicated by Paper Mill Playhouse throughout the spring by a group of 70 Evaluators, with each school receiving four independent evaluations.
The 2012 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards ceremony is set for Tuesday, June 5th at the Millburn theater. Schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Musical and Leading Actor/Actress nominees perform at the event and award recipients are presented with an engraved crystal award from Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards partner, Tiffany & Co.
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