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Theatre Under The Stars Announces the Tommy Tune Award Nominees

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is excited to announce the nominations and host for TUTS' 15th annual Tommy Tune Awards, which will be held on April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

For the past 15 years, the Tommy Tune Awards have recognized and rewarded excellence in the production of musical theatre by high school students and their teachers across the greater Houston area.

The 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 George W. 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.

Sarah Pepper is hosting this year's awards ceremony and will be joined by some very special surprise guests.

After evaluating the 45 participating Houston-area high school productions during the 2016-2017 school year, a team of 34 Houston-based theatre professionals nominated students in 15 award categories. Additionally, a separate committee considered 53 potential scholarship recipients.

The following high schools and individuals were nominated:

Best Musical:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You
Westfield High School - The Wiz

Best Leading Actor:

Noah Carlin as Edward Bloom in Big Fish at Clear Springs High School
Will Byrne as Will Bloom in Big Fish at Clear Springs High School
Alex Rudd as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, School Edition at Friendswood High School
Max Morgan as Marius in Les Miserables, School Edition at Friendswood High School
Michael Duran as Sweatie Eddie in Sister Act at George Bush High School
Ian Tonroy as Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Klein High School
Ben Heintz as Edward Bloom in Big Fish at Seven Lakes High School
Matt Hopper as Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl at Stratford High School
Dontrevion Young as Lion in The Wiz at Westfield High School

Best Leading Actress:

Kayla Johnson as Ti Moune in Once on This Island at Aldine Senior High School
Hannah Hayes as Sandra Bloom in Big Fish at Clear Springs High School
Malia Nelson as Ariel in The Little Mermaid at Foster High School
Emily Mesa as Eponine in Les Miserables, School Edition at Friendswood High School
Jazmyne Charles as Ti Moune in Once on This Island at G.W. Carver Magnet High School
Carrie Fleming as Polly Browne in The Boy Friend at Second Baptist School
Jenna Bobbora as Madame Dubonnet in The Boy Friend at Second Baptist School
Jasmine Rodgers as The Witch in Into the Woods at Stephen F. Austin High School
Lauren Dodds as Sally Smith in Me and My Girl at Stratford High School

Best Supporting Actor:

Clayton Senter as Enjolras in Les Miserables, School Edition at Friendswood High School
Cade Tucker as Thenardier in Les Miserables, School Edition at Friendswood High School
Ri'Chard Jordan as Tonton Julian in Once on This Island at G.W. Carver Magnet High School
Nick Lammey as Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Klein High School
Brendan King as Charles in Pippin at Pearland High School
William Chambers as Lord Brockhurst in The Boy Friend at Second Baptist School
Noah Pacht as Brian Howard in It Shoulda Been You at The Emery/Weiner School
Cullen Dyer as Tinman in The Wiz at Westfield High School
Brett Mills as Scarecrow in The Wiz at Westfield High School

Best Supporting Actress:

Haley Dougherty as Jenny Hill in Big Fish at Clear Springs High School
Kai Womack as Mama Euralie in Once On This Island at G.W. Carver Magnet High School
Savanna Menzel as Little Sally in Urinetown at High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Savannah Boyd as Johanna in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Klein High School
Grace Nardecchia as Nikki Harris in Curtains at Klein Oak High School
Letitia Primrose as Christina Darby in On the Twentieth Century at St. Agnes Academy
Faith Berrigan as Maria, Duchess of Dene in Me and My Girl at Stratford High School
Mallory Bechtel as Mme Dubonnet in The Boy Friend at The John Cooper School
Divina Ito as Evillene in The Wiz at Westfield High School

Best Featured Performer:

Kyle Benaquisto as Karl in Big Fish at Clear Springs High School
Jane Cloninger as Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid at Dulles High School
Elysa Aguilar as Ezrulie in Once on This Island at G.W. Carver Magnet High School
Alexis Perry as Little Becky Two-Shoes in Urinetown at High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Ryan Esparza as Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Klein High School
Ellen Bacarisse as Lady Brockhurst in The Boy Friend at Second Baptist School
Karly Anderson as Calliope in Xanadu at Spring Woods High School
Kyle Goodson as Herbert Parchester in Me and My Girl at Stratford High School
Brianna Wyatt as Glenda/Aunt Em in The Wiz at Westfield High School

Best Ensemble/Chorus:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
South Houston High School - Once Upon a Mattress
Stratford High School - Me and My Girl
Westfield High School - The Wiz

Best Scenic Design:

Clear Lake High School - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein Collins High School - Once Upon a Mattress
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
Seven Lakes High School - Big Fish
South Houston High School - Once Upon a Mattress
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You

Best Costume Design:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein Collins High School - Once Upon a Mattress
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Klein Oak High School - Curtains
Memorial High School - Mary Poppins
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
South Houston High School - Once Upon a Mattress

Best Lighting Design:

Clear Lake High School - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
Seven Lakes High School - Big Fish
Spring Woods High School - Xanadu
Stratford High School - Me and My Girl
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You
The Kinkaid School - Into the Woods

Best Stage Crew & Technical Execution:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Cypress Ranch High School - Hello, Dolly!
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Kerr High School - School of Rock
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Pearland High School - Pippin
Seven Lakes High School - Big Fish
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You
The Kinkaid School - Into the Woods
Westfield High School - The Wiz

Best Musical Direction:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
Seven Lakes High School - Big Fish
South Houston High School - Once Upon a Mattress
Stratford High School - Me and My Girl
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You
The Kinkaid School - Into the Woods

Best Orchestra:

Clements High School - Honk!
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
George Bush High School - Sister Act
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Kerr High School - School of Rock
Klein Collins High School - Once Upon a Mattress
Klein Forest High School - In the Heights
Klein High School - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Klein Oak High School - Curtains
Seven Lakes High School - Big Fish
Stephen F. Austin High School - Into the Woods

Best Choreography:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Cypress Ranch High School - Hello, Dolly!
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - Urinetown
Klein Oak High School - Curtains
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
South Houston High School - Once Upon a Mattress
The Kinkaid School - Into the Woods
Westfield High School - The Wiz

Best Direction:

Clear Springs High School - Big Fish
Cypress Ranch High School - Hello, Dolly!
Friendswood High School - Les Miserables, School Edition
G.W. Carver Magnet High School - Once on This Island
Houston Christian High School - Curtains
Kingwood High School - Bonnie and Clyde
Pearland High School - Pippin
Second Baptist School - The Boy Friend
Spring Woods High School - Xanadu
Stratford High School - Me and My Girl
The Emery/Weiner School - It Shoulda Been You
Westfield High School - The Wiz

Scholarships

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. In addition to the awards, TUTS also gives out scholarships annually to a number of deserving students. These include the Ruth Denney Scholarship, named in honor of Tune's mentor and legendary Lamar High School drama teacher. Ruth Denney was the founder and first director of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and then Professor of Drama Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She died in 2007, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.

Students under consideration for scholarships were required to meet specific criteria set out by the Scholarship Committee, and were also required to submit an application and an essay. The scholarship committee, composed of TUTS board members, has carefully reviewed all of the applications and will announce the scholarship recipients during the awards ceremony.

This year, TUTS is adding a new scholarship created in memory of Sean Rudolph, who was a successful business owner in Houston, a devoted patron of the arts and a Broadway producer. Over the past 14 years, TUTS has awarded more than 99 college scholarships totaling $284,000 to Tommy Tune students.

Jimmy Awards

The Best Leading Actor and Actress will go on to compete at the national level for the Jimmy Award at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. Established in 2009, the Jimmy Awards are named after Broadway theatre owner and producer, James M. Nederlander. This year, the program will bring the country's best high school performers together to compete on Broadway on June 26. While in New York, Jimmy Award participants will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and master classes, receive one-on-one coaching from theater 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 Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress will be presented.

Children's MemoriAl Hermann Hospital is the official healthcare partner of Theatre Under The Stars and the official sponsor of the 2016/17 Season. United Airlines is the official airline partner of Theatre Under The Stars. KTRK ABC13 is the official media partner of Theatre Under The Stars. The Tommy Tune Awards are sponsored by the generous support of ConocoPhillips, The Brown Foundation, Inc., the Vivian L. Smith Foundation, Tricia and Alan Ratliff, David and Marsha Taylor, and the Sean Rudolph Scholarship Fund.

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

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is Houston's leading Musical Theatre Company since 1968, with a focus on education and community engagement. TUTS is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Organization that relies on the generous support of our donors to deliver first-rate theatre experiences. For more information, please visit www.tuts.com.

Founded in 1972, the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT), the nationally-recognized educational wing of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), offers the only technique-based musical theatre training program in the Houston area. HSMT educates and develops musical theatre students of all ages and is fully committed to providing our community with the very best in performing arts education. Focusing on the principle of process over product, students learn the fundamentals of musical theater performance through year-round courses, productions, workshops, and master classes, all geared toward equipping students with the tools they need to be successful in musical theatre and in life. Visit TUTS.com/hsmt for more information!

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