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National High School Musical Theatre Awards' New York Chapter Renamed for the Late Roger Rees

The Broadway Education Alliance, the fiscal sponsor for the Gershwin Awards, announced today that the program has been renamed The Roger Rees Awards for Excellence in Student Performance-to celebrate the exceptional life and career-long artistic excellence of Broadway's beloved actor, Roger Rees. Formerly known as The Gershwin Awards, the 2015-2016 Roger Rees Award for Excellence in Student Performance will be held on Sunday, May 22 at the Beacon School in Manhattan.

High schools located in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester were invited to apply for consideration of their students who have played leading roles in an officially licensed school production during the 2015-2016 academic year. CLICK HERE to view participating schools.

The Roger Rees Awards is a musical theater showcase featuring ensemble and solo performances by students nominated by his/her high school for a panel of judges, industry professionals, family and friends. The event culminates in two students selected to receive The Roger Rees Award for Best Actor and Best Actress. These two young performers will represent Greater New York at the 8th National High School Musical Theatre Awards on June 27 at the Minskoff Theatre. Last year, Best Actor-Ryan Koerber and Best Actress-Marla Louissaint represented New York City at the national award. After an extensive rehearsal period and an outstanding performance, Marla was named NHSMTA's Best Actress for her role of Caroline in the Beacon School's production of Caroline or Change.

In a unanimous decision, the advisory board chose to name the program after Roger Rees because of the breadth and depth of his body of work as a performer-onstage in musicals and plays, on television and in film, as well as offstage as a writer, director, designer and producer.

Roger Rees received Olivier and Tony Awards for his performance in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and Tony nominations for Indiscretions and as co-director of Peter and the Starcatcher. His stage credits include more than forty roles as an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Broadway productions of Uncle Vanya, The Rehearsal, London Assurance, The Addams Family, The Winslow Boy and The Visit. Off-Broadway, he starred in A Man of No Importance and received Obie Awards for his role in The End of the Day and as co-director of Peter and the Starcatcher. He was well known for his role as Robin Colcord on TV's Cheers and Lord John Marbury in The West Wing. Rees passed away in July 2015 after a year-long battle with brain cancer. He was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in November 2015.

Founded in 2011, The Roger Rees Award (formerly the Gershwin Awards) is managed by an Advisory Board that includes Peter Avery (NY Board of Education), Melissa Caolo (Camp Broadway LLC), Frank DiLella (NY1 News), Tim Federle (Writer), Nancy Gibbs (GM/Producer), Lisa Mitchell and Andrew Flatt (Disney Theatrical Group), Susan E. Lee (the Broadway Education Alliance) and Eva Price (Producer). The program is presented by The Broadway Education Alliance with generous support by Disney Theatrical Group, Camp Broadway, LLC, Dodger Theatricals Productions, The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY), and other professional organizations.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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