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2015 Tommy Tune Award Winners Announced; Alec Michael Ryan and Audrey McKee Headed to the Jimmy Awards

The 2015 Tommy Tune Awards winners have been announced! To a crowd of over 2,600 people, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) declared the winners of the 13th annual Tommy Tune Awards on April 21 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

"The Tommy Tune Awards are such a special part of TUTS. The talent these students possess is truly incredible, and I am so proud that this organization gives them the opportunity to display their great work," said John Breckenridge, TUTS President and CEO.

Created by TUTS in 2002, the Tommy Tune Awards recognize and reward excellence in the production of musical theatre by high school students and their teachers. After evaluating the 45 participating Houston-area high school productions during the 2014-15 school year, a team of 30 Houston-based theatre professionals made 164 nominations in 15 award categories.

The winners are as follows:

  • Best Musical - The Kinkaid School - A Chorus Line
  • Best Leading Actor - Alec Michael Ryan as Lawrence in Klein Oak High School's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  • Best Leading Actress - Audrey McKee as Mary Poppins in Friendswood High School's Mary Poppins
  • Best Supporting Actor - Harrison Poe as Paul in The Kinkaid School's A Chorus Line
  • Best Supporting Actress - Muna Uzodike/Natalie Holley/Celeste Terni as The Ronnettes in The John Cooper School's Little Shop of Horrors
  • Best Featured Performer - Raheem Maughn as Enjolras in Klein High School's Les Miserables School Edition
  • Best Direction - Stratford High School - Bye Bye Birdie
  • Best Musical Direction - Klein High School - Les Miserables School Edition
  • Best Choreography - The Kinkaid School - A Chorus Line
  • Best Orchestra - Friendswood High School - Mary Poppins
  • Best Ensemble/Chorus - The Kinkaid School - A Chorus Line
  • Best Stage Crew & Technical Execution - Houston Christian High School - Pippin
  • Best Scenic Design - Klein High School - Les Miserables School Edition
  • Best Costume Design - Houston Christian High School - Pippin
  • Best Lighting Design - Klein High School - Les Miserables School Edition

Scholarship Recipients:

TUTS' Tommy Tune Awards are designed not only to acknowledge remarkable musical theatre talent at the high school level, but also to encourage future artistic development. TUTS presented eight 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 an essay.

The winners included Ryan Dumas (The Woodlands High School), Marcus Lonardo (Pearland High School), Stephen Louis (Clear Springs High School), Danielle Pike (Kingwood High School), Elizabeth Ramsey (Second Baptist School), Rebekah Stanley (Cypress Ranch High School), and Katarina Yanko (The Woodlands College Park High School). The prestigious Ruth Denny Scholarship, which carries an increased stipend, was presented to Kyle Legacion (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts).

Awards Show:

In addition to the Tony Awards-style ceremony, the evening featured many noteworthy performances. The awards ceremony's namesake and nine-time Tony Award winner, Tommy Tune, kicked off the show with an arrangement of "Fascinating Rhythm/I Got Rhythm" that he recently performed in the production of Lady, Be Good for Encores! in New York. This performance was styled by the Tommy Tune Awards' musical director, Michael Moricz. Mr. Tune was joined on-stage by all of 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 awards ceremony included Deborah Duncan and Jim Bernhard. Duncan is the host of KHOU's Great Day Houston morning show. Bernhard has written several original productions that have debuted at TUTS and authored the organization's theatrical history book, "Stars In Your Eyes". Presenters for the evening included Miller Outdoor Theatre's Managing Director Cissy Segall Davis, PBS and Houston Public Media's Ernie Manouse, TUTS President and CEO John Breckenridge, composer and musician Michael Moricz, HOT 95.7 FM's Sarah Pepper, the Houston Ballet's Stanton Welch, ABC 13's Tom Koch and TUTS Chairperson-Elect Amy Pierce. Guests also enjoyed a special video appearance from Stephanie Styles, a former Tommy Tune Award recipient for Best Leading Actress. Styles is currently starring in the national tour of Newsies.

Jimmy Awards:

As Best Leading Actor and Actress, Alec Michael Ryan and Audrey McKee will go on to compete at the national level for the JimmyTM Award at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City on June 29. Established in 2009, the JimmyTM Awards bring the country's best high school performers together to compete on Broadway and are named after Broadway theatre owner and producer, James M. Nederlander.

While in New York, Jimmy Award participants will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and master classes, receive one-on-one coaching from theatre 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.

TUTS' 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. Tune is currently taking an autobiographical stroll in Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales where he dances, sings and tale-tells through more than 50 years of showmanship.

To learn more about TUTS' Education and Community Engagement programs, visit TUTS.com/EDU.

Photo: Facebook

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