Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2018 Rising Star Award Winners

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2018 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) 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). This year Union High School took the prize for "Outstanding Overall Production." A complete list of award winners is below.

Among the top nominated high schools, Union High School had 12 nominations, Columbia High School had 9 nominations, Delaware Valley Regional High School and West Morris Central High School each had 8 nominations, Moorestown High School had 7 nominations, Eastern Regional High School, Ridge High School and Toms River High School North each had 6 nominations, Morristown High School had 5 nominations and Fair Lawn High School, Gloucester County Institute of Technology, Wallkill Valley Regional High School and Westfield High School each had 4 nominations. These totals do not account for Student Achievement Award nominations.

"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.

"Recognizing someone's talent, hard work, and dedication can be a validation that propels them forward in pursuing their dreams. The Rising Star Awards can be that impetus for the student performers and theater technicians it honors each year," said Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings. "Investors Bank is grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge, not just the students, but the theater programs in which they participate in high schools throughout New Jersey. Congratulations to everyone, and never stop working toward achieving your dreams."

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 theater performance in college. Paper Mill Playhouse is pleased to award a prize of $500 to a school receiving the 2018 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 "Theater 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 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 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 in the season finale concert, "New Voices of 2018: From Sea to Shining Sea" on July 27 and July 28 at Montclair State University.

Rising Star Awards - Presented by the Investors Foundation is 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.

2018 Rising Star Award Winners:

Outstanding Hair and Make-up Achievement
Danielle Garritt and Keleyn Wraga, Toms River High School North
THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Outstanding Costuming Achievement
Katie Adams, Morristown High School
ANYTHING GOES

Outstanding Costuming Achievement
Barbara Canace, Carol Rutledge, and Suzanna Roghanchi, Columbia High School
HAIRSPRAY

Outstanding Lighting Achievement
Coby Chasman-Beck, Union High School
PETER PAN

Outstanding Scenic Achievement
Jamie Allaire, Jackson Memorial High School
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Kaila Lewis
Lighting Designer
Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts
INTO THE WOODS

Ellis Stanton
Light Board Operator
Delaware Valley Regional High School
GREASE

Matt Mruz and Grace Prachthauser
Sound/Film Designer
Morristown High School
ANYTHING GOES

Andrew Laudor
Lighting Designer
Mount Olive High School
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

Patricia Patalinjug
Graphic Designer
Nutley High School
PIPPIN

Rakesh Potluri
Assistant Lighting Designer/Master Electrician
Princeton Day School
BAT BOY THE MUSICAL

Costume Crew
Summit High School
LEGALLY BLONDE

Matthew Nowell
Technical Director/Sound Designer
Voorhees High School
FOOTLOOSE

Morgan L. Eng
Graphic Designer/Pit Orchestra
Westfield High School
FOLLIES

Daniel Suriel
Lighting Designer/Board Operator
Carteret High School
IN THE HEIGHTS

Educational Impact Award
Summit High School
LEGALLY BLONDE

"Theatre for Everyone" Inclusion & Access Award
Madison High School
FOOTLOOSE

Outstanding Choreography / Musical Staging
Jennifer Williams, Union High School
PETER PAN

Outstanding Music Direction
Charles Santoro, Fair Lawn High School
ONCE

Outstanding Direction
Jeff Hogan, West Morris Central High School
THE PIRATE QUEEN

Outstanding Orchestra
Fair Lawn High School
ONCE

Outstanding Chorus
Princeton Day School
BAT BOY THE MUSICAL

Outstanding Featured Ensemble Group
The Lost Boys, Union High School
PETER PAN

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role
Alyssa Carbonell as "Tiger Lily"
Union High School
PETER PAN

Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Member
Joshua Nilsen as "Eugene Florczyk"
Delaware Valley Regional High School
GREASE

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role
Caroline Herbert as "The Chaperone"
Hopewell Valley Central High School
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role
Nick Scafuto as "J. Bowden Hapgood"
Bridgewater-Raritan High School
ANYONE CAN WHISTLE

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role
Matthew Losco as "Igor"
Vernon Township High School
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role
Mira Mookerjee as "Lilli Vanessi/Katharine"
Moorestown High School
KISS ME, KATE

Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role
Jovanni Aparicio as "Usnavi"
Carteret High School
IN THE HEIGHTS

Outstanding Overall Production
Union High School
PETER PAN

Paper Mill Playhouse, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic 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.


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