TUTS Announces Winners for 2014 Tommy Tune Awards!

TUTS Announces Winners for 2014 Tommy Tune Awards!

The 2014 Tommy Tune Awards winners have been announced! To a crowd of more than 2,500 people, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) declared the winners of TUTS' twelfth annual Tommy Tune Awards on the evening of Wednesday, April 16, at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Adding extra excitement to the evening, the award ceremony's namesake and nine-time Tony Award winnerTommy Tune made a special appearance to kick off the show and to present the night's top honor.

"Each year the level of talent we see in the local high schools just gets better and better. The students from across our city are producing some truly amazing pieces of theatre, and TUTS could not be more proud to host this awards program to give a platform for these students and their work," said John Breckenridge, TUTS President and CEO.

Developed by TUTS, the Tommy Tune Awards honor musical theatre excellence at the high school level. After reviewing and evaluating the 44 participating Houston-area high school productions during the 2013-14 school year, a team of 33 Houston-based theatre professionals made 151 nominations in 15 categories. The winners are as follows:

  • Best Musical - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Leading Actor - Nyles Washington as Usnavi in G. W. Carver Magnet High School's In The Heights
  • Best Leading Actress - Emily Lewis as Hope Cladwell in Clear Springs High School's Urinetown
  • Best Supporting Actor - Stephen Louis as Officer Lockstock in Clear Springs High School's Urinetown
  • Best Supporting Actress - Amber Scott as Daniela in G. W. Carver Magnet High School's In The Heights
  • Best Featured Performer - Kyle Legacion and Emily Scott as the Boy/Girl Bears in High School for the Performing and Visual Arts'Avenue Q, School Edition
  • Best Direction - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Musical Direction - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Choreography - G. W. Carver Magnet High School - In The Heights
  • Best Orchestra - G. W. Carver Magnet High School - In The Heights
  • Best Ensemble / Chorus - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Crew & Technical Execution - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Scenic Design - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown
  • Best Costume Design - Klein Oak High School - Guys and Dolls
  • Best Lighting Design - Clear Springs High School - Urinetown

In addition to the Tony-awards-style ceremony, the evening featured many noteworthy performances. Tommy Tune kicked off the show with a new arrangement of "We'll Raise A Glass Together" from his hit show Grand Hotel that was styled by the Tommy Tune Awards' musical director Michael Moricz. Mr. Tune was joined on-stage with the all the nominees for Best Leading Actor and Actress as well as Best Supporting Actor and Actress. Other memorable acts included performances from nominees in the Best Musical category, musical medleys with each of this year's Best Leading Actor and Best Leading Actress nominees, and a grand finale including two students from each participating school.

Co-hosts for the award ceremony include Jim Bernhard and Sarah Pepper. Bernhard has written several original productions that have debuted at TUTS and authored the theatrical history Stars in Your Eyes. Pepper is the morning host of The Hot Show on HOT 95.7 FM. This year's special guest presenter was Beth Broderick, an actress most widely known for her work in "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch". Guests also enjoyed a special video appearance from Alison Luff, who played Elphaba in the 2013 national tour of Wicked. Among the other notable presenters were TUTS President and CEO John Breckenridge, Miller Outdoor Theatre's Managing Director Cissy Segall Davis, CBS's "Great Day Houston" host Deborah Duncan, The Alley Theatre's Paul Hope, KUHT's Ernie Manouse, composer and musician Michael Moricz, ABC 13's Don Nelson, TUTS Scholarship Committee Chairperson Amy Pierce and the Houston Ballet's director Stanton Welch.

TUTS' Tommy Tune Awards are designed not only to acknowledge remarkable musical theatre talent at the high school level, but also to encourage future development. TUTS presented ten scholarships to outstanding participating students of the Tommy Tune Awards including the Ruth Denney Scholarship, named in honor of Tune's mentor and legendary Lamar High School drama teacher. Students under consideration were required to meet specific criteria set out by the Scholarship Committee, as well as submit an application and essay. The winners include Tanith Albright (Manvel High School), Chyanne Cristensen (Kingwood High School), Katherine Fester (Memorial High School), Madeline Garvis (St. Agnes Academy), Mary Kate Goss (Stratford High School), Samantha McHenry (Friendswood High School),Tori Robertson (Foster High School), Amber Scott (G. W. Carver Magnet High School) and Hayley Talkington (Episcopal High School). The prestigious Ruth Denny Award, which carries an increased stipend, was presented to Sean Hardin of George Ranch High School.

As Best Leading Actor and Actress, Lewis and Washington will go on to compete at the national level for the Jimmy Award at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City. Established in 2009, the Jimmy Awards are named after Broadway theater owner and producer, James M. Nederlander. This year, the program will bring the country's best high school performers together to compete on Broadway on Monday June 30, 2014.

Theatre Under The Stars will cover all expenses for Lewis and Washington to represent TUTS in this week-long national event. While in New York, Jimmy Award participants will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and master classes; receive one-on-one coaching from theater professionals; be seen by casting agents; meet and converse with Broadway actors; and compete for scholarships and other prizes. The week's events will culminate in a live awards show where the Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress will be presented.

The Theatre Under The Stars Tommy Tune Awards are named for Houston native and Lamar High School alumnus Tommy Tune. A performer, director, and choreographer with more than 50 years of stage experience, Tune received nine Tony Awards for his work in the following productions: Seesaw, My One and Only, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Nine, Grand Hotel, and The Will Rogers Follies. He was also awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003 by President Bush.

Sponsors for the 2014 Tommy Tune Awards include The Brown Foundation, Inc. and Marsha and David Taylor. Additional support for the Tommy Tune Awards scholarship fund was provided by Amy and Rob Pierce.

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is Houston's acclaimed nonprofit musical theatre company whose mission is to enrich life through the experience of quality musical theatre and to positively impact lives beyond the stage through innovative education and community engagement programs. TUTS performs annually in Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center and at Miller Outdoor Theatre. TUTS was the first theatrical organization in Houston to perform free to the public when it was founded in 1968 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park and is the only Houston arts organization that has performed there free to the public every year since the theatre opened. Founded by Frank M. Young and currently under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge and Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world. Through its membership in the Independent Presenters Network, TUTS regularly helps mount shows on Broadway which eventually show locally to Houston audiences.

In support of TUTS' mission, TUTS' Education & Community Engagement programs provide year-round instruction and stage experience. TheHumphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) offers technique-driven classes for all ability levels and ages. Through The River Performing and Visual Arts Center (The River), TUTS provides an accessible and inclusive arts education for individuals of all abilities. TUTS Education & Community Engagement provides extended on-site programming as well as off-site programming for children in schools, hospitals and other community-based sites.

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