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Overture & Marcus Center to Expand Tommy Awards Program


Overture Center for the Arts and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts today announced they would partner to expand the geographical reach of Overture's Tommy Awards program, allowing schools from Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine Counties to participate.

Now in its sixth year, Overture's Tommy Awards recognizes excellence in local high school musical theater. During the 2013/14 school year, a panel of theater professionals and educators reviewed 66 performances throughout South Central Wisconsin, providing detailed feedback to the performers and directors. More than 300 awards were given in a number of performance and production categories, and the recipients honored at a gala performance in June.

Previously, the program has been limited to schools within 75 miles of Overture Center in downtown Madison. The new partnership will allow the reach to expand to 100 miles, encompassing all of Milwaukee County as well as other areas in Southeast Wisconsin.

"This is our fastest-growing program by far," said Tim Sauers, vice president of programming at Overture Center. "We went from 24 productions to 66 in just five years, including literally thousands of students. Imagine how many more thousands of young performers we can reach with this new partnership. It's been just amazing to see the level of talent in our area, and I'm really excited to see the up and coming performers in the Milwaukee area."

"We're excited to enter into this partnership with Overture to bring the Tommy Awards to Milwaukee," said Heidi Lofy, vice president of sales and marketing for Marcus Center. "Nurturing young performers has benefits on so many levels, to them, their education, their confidence, their future as creative professionals in any field. High schools all around Milwaukee have been looking for something like this, and we are thrilled to be able to offer it this year."

The 2014/15 award ceremony and performance will take place on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at Overture Center. All Outstanding Lead Performance award recipients will be eligible to audition for the National High School Musical Theater Awards in May. The NHSMTA, also known as The Jimmys, is a weeklong intensive workshop and competition in New York City in July. Overture's Tommy Awards has sent six students to the Jimmys over the last three years, and two have been named national finalists.

Overture's Tommy Awards are named in honor of local musical theater hero Tom Wopat, critically acclaimed and Tony Award-nominated singer and actor. Born in Lodi, Wisconsin, Wopat first started singing and dancing in high school musicals, and studied music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before getting his "big break" in 1978 as Luke Duke in the immensely popular Dukes of Hazzard television show. He even directed several episodes during the show's six-year run.

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