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.
Since 90 schools across New Jersey participated in the 2012 Rising Star Awards, it is a great honor to be recognized. Rahway High School received three Rising Star Award nominations for its production of 42nd Street. The show received nominations in the categories Outstanding Performance by a Chorus, Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging thanks to the creativity of Alison Dooley, and Outstanding Hair & Make-up Achievement. In addition, Nate Figueroa received an honorable mention in the category Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Billy Lawlor.
“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.
“We are pleased to continue our involvement with Paper Mill Playhouse’s Rising Star Awards program,” said Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings, who also serves on the board of the Investors Foundation. “The Playhouse should be applauded for its efforts to recognize, nurture, and acknowledge the exceptional performing arts talents of young people and educators statewide.”
Paper Mill Managing Director Todd Schmidt 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.”
The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards are one of several such programs sponsored by regional theatres around the country. The winning performers in the Lead Actress and Lead Actor categories will represent the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards competition at New York University, which culminates in a Gala Ceremony in New York City. The National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA) is a celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theater. The program recognizes individual artistry in vocal, dance and acting performance, and honors teachers and their schools’ commitment to excellence in performing arts education. The fourth annual National High School Musical Theater Awards will be held on Monday, June 25, 2012, at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. Activities will commence on Wednesday, June 20, with rehearsals, master classes, private coaching and interviews with theater professionals leading up to the live awards show where the Jimmy™ Award for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress will be presented. The program will conclude on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
The 2012 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Ceremony will take place at Paper Mill Playhouse Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30pm.
Paper Mill Playhouse also awards $5,000 in scholarships at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation. Four $1,000 cash scholarships are 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 is pleased to announce that a prize of $500 will be given to a school receiving the 2012 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. Through the Rising Star “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion & Access Award and a partnership with VSA New Jersey and The Cultural Access Network of New Jersey, a project of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Paper Mill Playhouse will present a cash award of $1,000 to a school to recognize excellence in the promotion and practice of creative inclusion of students and adults with disabilities as performers, designers, musicians and production staff. Additionally, this award also seeks to recognize and reward a school that takes steps to ensure their performances are accessible to audiences with disabilities.
Lastly, students receiving final nominations in the lead and supporting acting categories receive a scholarship to Paper Mill Playhouse’s competitive Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, a professional training program, which along with advanced classes in singing, acting and dance, offers the nominees an opportunity to perform on the stage at Paper Mill Playhouse in our season finale concert, “New Voices of 2012: It’s Our Time: a musical celebration of growing up and changing the world” on August 3rd and 4th.
Among the top nominated high schools, Summit High School lead with eighteen nominations, followed by Westfield High School with 12, Gill St. Bernard’s School with 11, Nutley High School with nine, and Cranford High School, Don Bosco Prep High School and Union High School with eight nominations each.
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