ROAD TO THE NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL AWARDS
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Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2017 Rising Star Award Winners

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2017 Rising Star Award Winners

As one of the nation's leading professional theaters and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director) has a well-earned reputation for launching both performers and shows to Broadway. 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 winner Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin), Shanice Williams, star of NBC's The Wiz Live! and Olivier Award nominee Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon). The 2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation ceremony took place at Paper Mill Playhouse on Tuesday, June 6, at 7:30pm, featuring presenters from Broadway and beyond. The ceremony was broadcast live on television and online through Paper Mill Playhouse video partner, Hometowne Television, of Summit, New Jersey.

Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees Township took home the top prize of Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical for their production of Les Misérables: School Edition, along with two other trophies. Union High School and Gloucester County Institute of Technology each took home three trophies at this year's awards. See below for a full list of award winners and scholarship recipients.

"We are very excited to celebrate excellence in high school musical theater with the students of New Jersey," commented Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director. "For many New Jersey schools, the prestigious honor of a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star nomination is the culmination of their hard work in a high school musical. Many of our Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have won esteemed industry awards while working in theater and film."

Past Rising Star nominees and recipients recently appeared on Broadway in She Loves Me (Laura Benanti), Noises Off (Rob McClure), American Psycho (Morgan Weed) Aladdin (Josh Dela Cruz, Jonathan Schwartz, Kathryn Allison), Les Misérables (Nikki M. James), Disney's The Lion King (Jelani Remy), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Julia Knitel), Jersey Boys (Russell Fisher), The Phantom of the Opera (Julia Udine), London's West End production of The Book of Mormon (Jared Gertner); The Public Theater's Grounded (Anne Hathaway). Shanice Williams, star of NBC's The Wiz Live was nominated for a Rising Star Award in 2014.

Paper Mill Director of Education Lisa Cooney explains, "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 theater technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarships and professional training. We consistently hear from top-tier colleges and casting directors that a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award is a significant accolade for an aspiring theater artist."

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 statewide 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. 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 Tiffany & Co.

"We are honored and grateful to be supporting the exciting Rising Star Awards, which showcases the exceptional talent of student performers as well as the ingenuity of theater technicians," said Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings. "The nominees spend countless hours preparing for this annual competition that celebrates the very best in high school musical performances. The Awards also provide an opportunity for students from across New Jersey to share this amazing experience, and together they bring an incredible level of energy, passion and ability that helps everyone deliver truly extraordinary presentations."

Paper Mill Playhouse also awarded $5,000 in scholarships at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation. Five $1,000 cash scholarships were given to outstanding individual students who plan to continue studying theater performance or technical theater in college. Paper Mill Playhouse awarded a prize of $500 to Fair Lawn High School who received the 2017 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 and Access Award and a partnership with 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 presented a cash award of $1,000 to Morristown High 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 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 onstage at Paper Mill Playhouse in the season finale concert, "New Voices of 2017: Everyone Loves an Underdog!" on July 28 and July 29.

The 2017 Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation are also generously supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

Rising Star scholarships are made possible by Ruth Bedford in memory of Jane Burgio, Walt Santner in honor of Janet Sovey, and the Douglas Michael Krueger Scholarship Fund Trust. The Theatre for Everyone Inclusion and Access Award is supported by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is grateful for generous contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Todd Schmidt (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is one of the country's leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

2017 Rising Star Award and Scholarship Winners

2017 Recipients

as presented at the 22nd Annual Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Overall Production

Eastern Regional High School

LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role

Khailah Johnson as "Deloris Van Cartier"

Franklin High School

SISTER ACT

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role

Gary Bowman as "Jean Valjean"

Eastern Regional High Schoo

LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role

Alana Kopelove as "Little Sally"

Gloucester County Institute of Technology

URINETOWN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role

Will Higgins as "Nathan Detroit"

Montclair Kimberley Academy

GUYS AND DOLLS

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role

Shane Daneyko as "Chef Louis"

West Essex Regional High School

DISNEY'S THE LITTLE MERMAID

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Featured Ensemble Member

Rachel Maselek as "Little Becky Two Shoes"

Gloucester County Institute of Technology

URINETOWN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Featured Ensemble Group

The Rebel Poor

Gloucester County Institute of Technology

URINETOWN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Chorus

Academy of the Holy Angels

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Direction

Dr. Gregg Molotsky

Eastern Regional High School

LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Choreography / Musical Staging

Jensyn Modero

Mount Saint Dominic Academy

42ND STREET

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Music Direction

James Mosser and Laura Muller

Union High School

CINDERELLA

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Orchestra

Union High School

CINDERELLA

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Scenic Achievement

Jason M. Stewart

Ridge High School

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Lighting Achievement

Christopher Annas-Lee

Union High School

CINDERELLA

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Costuming Achievement

Katherine Winter

Summit High School

HOW TO SUCCEED

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Outstanding Hair and Make-up Achievement

Catherine O'Brien

Mount Saint Dominic Academy

42ND STREET

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Educational Impact Award

Fair Lawn High School

BLOODY BLOODY Andrew Jackson

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

"Theatre for Everyone"

Inclusion & Access Award

Morristown High School

LEGALLY BLONDE

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Aliza Howard and T'Erah Johnson

Cheer Coaching/Choreography

Academy for Performing Arts at UCVTS

BRING IT ON

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Desaree Vaughn

Film Editor/Cinematographer

BCIT Medford

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Front of House Crew

Christian Brothers Academy

THE MUSIC MAN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Coriyanna Osborne Willis

Stage Management

Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts

SISTER ACT

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Jordan Bernstein and Isabella Machuca

Sound Design/Q-Lab Operator

Morris County School of Technology

BIG FISH

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Stage Management Team

Morris County School of Technology

BIG FISH

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Costume Team

Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan

TARZAN

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Drew Fournier

Rehearsal Pianist

Secaucus High School

SHREK

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

RoBert Scott

Lighting Head

Summit High School

HOW TO SUCCEED

2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award

Student Achievement Award

Devyn Tibbals

Stage Manager

Westfield High School

CARRIE

The Investors Foundation Rising Star Awards Scholarship

Owen McKenna

Ridge High School

Janet Sovey Scholarship for the Rising Star Awards

Jordan Auriemma

River Dell Regional High School

The Jane Grey Burgio Memorial Scholarship for the Rising Star Awards

Moyo Odulaja

Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts

The Douglas Michael Krueger Scholarship for the Rising Star Awards

Sean McManus

Summit High School

The Paper Mill Playhouse Technical Theatre Scholarship

John Hartmann

David Brearley High School

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