Lainey McCarter and Sawyer Curtis To Represent Nashville's Spotlight Awards at 2023 Jimmy Awards in June

Siegel High School's Les Misérables Named Outstanding Musical at Nashville High School Musical Awards on Saturday Night

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2023 Spotlight Award winners for Outstanding Lead Performers
Lainey McCarter and Sawyer Curtis.
- photos by MA2LA

Nolensville High School's Lainey McCarter and Independence High's Sawyer Curtis were recognized as Outstanding Lead Performers at Saturday night's presentation of the 2023 Spotlight Awards, assuring them both of a spot at this summer's Jimmy Awards competition in New York City.

Murfreesboro's Siegel High School's production of Les Misérables was named Outstanding Musical during The Spotlight Awards.

As representatives of the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, McCarter and Curtis will travel to New York in June to compete with representatives of 45 similar programs across the country at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

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Lainey McCarter of Nolensville High School

The Spotlight Awards program is dedicated to encouraging and supporting the talents, educational endeavors and friendships of high school students in Tennessee to build a strong and inclusive theatre community. The Spotlight Awards provide opportunities for theatre students throughout Tennessee, with students representing 13 Tennessee counties, and several schools traveling from several hours away to participate.

Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall was the setting for Saturday night's awards show, featuring some 1,400 student actors and crewmembers from 37 participating high schools throughout Middle Tennessee. A sold-out audience was on hand to witness the event and to cheer on their favorite performers and productions during the show hosted by Nashville theater personality Bakari King.

"This is one of the most special nights for these young artists, as well as for us here at TPAC, as we witness the next generation of performing artists on our stage," said TPAC president and CEO Jennifer Turner. "It is our own high school version of the Tony Awards, celebrating artistic excellence and giving recognition to the students in our community for their creativity and dedication to the performing arts."

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Independence High's Sawyer Curtis

The awards program featured 10 performances from the nominees for Outstanding Musical, with Siegel High School going home with the night's award for their presentation of Les Misérables.

McCarter and Curtis, will join some 94 other student nominees from 48 regional programs across the country for 12 days of theatre intensive workshops, rehearsals and coaching from Broadway artists and industry experts, culminating in a performance on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on June 26. At the national awards ceremony, two students will be presented with the 2023 awards for Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor, and a total of 20 awards and scholarships will be presented.

Founded in 2009 by Nederlander Alliances LLC, Pittsburgh CLO, and Broadway Education Alliance, the mission of the Jimmy Awards®/National High School Musical Theatre Awards® is to raise the profile of musical theatre in schools, recognize dedicated teachers and inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts.

The program has been the catalyst for more than $4,000,000 in educational scholarships to date, and many past student participants have appeared in leading or supporting roles in Broadway, Touring and West End productions.

McCarter and Curtis received a scholarship presented by KraftCPAs for winning top honors in this year's Spotlight Awards program. The Jimmy Awards® are presented by The Broadway League Foundation in memory of legendary Broadway producer/theatre owner James M. Nederlander and are supported by many leading theatre industry organizations. For more information, visit

FULL LIST OF 2023 Spotlight Award Recipents

Outstanding Cast Vocals Siegel High School

Outstanding Vocalist Olivia Webber from Brentwood High School and Warren Quandt from Siegel High School

Outstanding Small Ensemble Upperman High School

Outstanding Large Ensemble Chattanooga Christian School

Outstanding Ensemble Performer Katerine Gordon from McGavock High School and Charlie Arkenberg from Siegel High School

Outstanding Costume Design Hillsboro High School

Outstanding Hair and Makeup Design Brentwood High School

Outstanding Set Design Independence High School

Outstanding Lighting Design Nolensville High School

Outstanding Design Concept Hillsboro High School

Outstanding Sound Operation Providence Christian Academy

Outstanding Technical Achievement Kendall Murray from Hillsboro High School and Lydia Aims from Nolensville High School

Outstanding Student Designer Abigail Collier from Goodpasture Christian School

Outstanding Stage Manager Emersyn Dyer from Hendersonville High School and Robin Phelps from LaVergne High School

Founder's Award Anna Bigelow from Hillsboro High School

Outstanding Orchestra Hendersonville High School

Outstanding Music Direction Siegel High School

Outstanding Choreography Mt. Juliet Christian Academy

Outstanding Dancer Camille Brito from Franklin Christian Academy and Ashley Dengate from Ravenwood High School

Outstanding Comedic Performer Kohen West from Coffee County High School and Catherine Phillips from Oakland High School

Outstanding Dramatic Performer Owen Wakefield from Hume-Fogg Academic High School and Lillian Wade from Providence Christian Academy

Outstanding Supporting Performer Elly Kate Smith from Lipscomb Academy and Kinston Smith from Nashville School of the Arts

Outstanding Puppet Manipulation Mayah Ezell from Goodpasture Christian School and Henry Gatto from University School of Nashville

"Knock 'Em Dead" Award Dequonn Gunn from LaVergne High School

Outstanding Stilt Work Abram Knott from Independence High School

Outstanding Guitar Solo Ben Tincher from Hendersonville High School

"Making Waves" Award Columbia Central High School

"In Brother Words" Award Achilles Phillips from McGavock High School and Rylie Holt from Fairview High School

"If Kneed Be" Award Ryan Watts from Creek Wood High School

Student Costume Design and Creation Award Oakland High School Nashville

Storytelling Award Hillwood High School

Connecting to Community Award John Overton High School

Outstanding Direction Mt. Juliet Christian Academy

Outstanding Musical Siegel High School

Outstanding Lead Performer Sawyer Curtis from Independence High School and Lainey McCarter from Nolensville High School

photos by MA2LA


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