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Sacred Heart University to Sponsor Stephen Sondheim Awards

The university will offer substantial scholarships to select award nominees.

Sacred Heart University to Sponsor Stephen Sondheim Awards

Sacred Heart University's theatre arts program is this year's presenting sponsor of the Stephen Sondheim Awards- Connecticut and Rhode Island's regional high school musical theatre award gala.

The ceremony, scheduled for June 7 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, celebrates outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre and cultivates the next generation of artists. Nominees and attendees from the two New England states are top-tier, high-caliber, high school performing arts students with passion for theatre. The gala also serves as the prelude to The Jimmy Awards, which honor national high school musical performances.

"Being recognized by the Stephen Sondheim Awards as an emerging leader in the academic theatre world is an honor," said Jerry Goehring, executive director of performing arts. "To be the exclusive academic sponsor for these top musical theatre awards is a direct result of the hard work and passion that our students have given to our amazing program."

TAP is one of SHU's fastest growing programs. It began in 2010 with 10 students and now includes more than 250 undergraduates. Forty are theatre arts majors, for who there are two tracks-musical theatre and acting. Students in TAP are involved in all areas of the program, including backstage, acting, writing and digital design.

Goehring, a Tony- and Grammy-nominated producer, said he is pleased that SHU is a sponsor of the prestigious gala, as it helps reach prospective students who could benefit from the University's expansive program and academic major. Additionally, TAP will offer a limited number of substantial theatre scholarships to select Sondheim award nominees.

"It is our hope that the TAP students will be an example to the high school performers of how theatre can continue at a high level during their college career," Goehring said. "Not only academically, but onstage in practice, especially at SHU, where our primary focus is on new works. Students work with authors from the professional world, such as writers from Be More Chill, to our own student-written plays and musicals."

Typically, TAP puts on nine to 12 productions a year. It offers two plays and two musicals in its black box theatre, The Little Theatre, and a play and musical on the main stage, the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts, plus three summer shows. In addition, TAP presents between eight and 15 student-written plays or musicals in its critically acclaimed student play festival, Theatrefest. The festival concludes with two fully produced student pieces.

The Sondheim gala will be presented in part by Broadway Method Academy (BMA) of Fairfield, which provides training for emerging young artists by connecting them with experienced staff and professionals. The academy also offers classes, private coaching, performance opportunities and more.

"This is an incredibly positive piece of news," said Connor Deane, BMA's founder and executive director. "Sacred Heart University has proven itself to be a leader in higher education, and we are thrilled to have it as a partner on the Sondheim Awards. This is a unique partnership that will have long-lasting, mutual benefits for both organizations and hopefully for hundreds of local students looking to pursue theatre in college. We could not be more excited for what's to come."

The TAP students also will work behind the scenes at the awards ceremony to help BMA with logistics in various areas from backstage to front of house.

Goehring said SHU is honored to be an active sponsor for the Stephen Sondheim Awards. "To support the talented high school theatre artists and the amazing teachers who have taught them with such rigor means the world to us," he said.

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