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Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2022 Rising Star Award Nominations

Among the top nominated high schools, Ridge High School (Somerset County) earned 13 nominations, and Columbia High School (Essex County) has 12 nominations.

Paper Mill Playhouse Announces 2022 Rising Star Award Nominations

As one of the nation's leading professional theaters and recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, Paper Mill Playhouse has a well-earned reputation for launching both performers and shows to Broadway. Since their inception in 1996, the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theatre have ignited the careers of many notable performers, all of whom attended high school in New Jersey. Among the early nominees and winners are Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin), Jelani Remy (Lion King, Ain't Too Proud), Shanice Williams, star of NBC's The Wiz Live! and Olivier Award nominee Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon). The 2022 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards ceremony will take place at Paper Mill Playhouse on Monday, June 6, at 7:30pm, featuring presenters from both Broadway and beyond. The ceremony will be livestreamed on Paper Mill's Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Among the top nominated high schools, Ridge High School (Somerset County) earned 13 nominations, Columbia High School (Essex County) has 12 nominations, Clearview Regional High School (Gloucester County) has 10 nominations, Immaculate Heart Academy (Bergen County) and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (Union County) each have 8 nominations, and West Milford High School (Passaic County) and Summit High School (Union County) each have 6 nominations. These totals do not account for Student Achievement Award nominations.

"We are excited to return to the theater on June 6 to celebrate live and in person, once again, excellence in a??New Jersey high school musical theater," commented Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director. "In the face of Covid, the perseverance we have witnessed from theater educators and students across the state has been inspiring. a??We know that, for many New Jersey schoolsa??, the prestigious honor of a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star nomination is the culmination of their hard work. Many of our Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have won esteemed industry awards working in theatera??, television and film."

Paper Mill Director of Education, Outreach and Access Lisa Cooney shared, "The return of live student productions and audiences in this school year is a cause to celebrate. By enduring close to two years of cancelled shows, we've all learned something about the very real value of theater instruction and arts education for our young people. We are honored to welcome back these gifted and passionate young artists and their teachers to the Paper Mill stage." Ms. Cooney added, "What's happening in high school musical productions here in New Jersey and around the country is remarkable. Programs like the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards raise the bar and create opportunities for student performers and theater technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarships and professional training. We consistently hear from top-tier colleges and casting directors that a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award is a significant accolade for an aspiring theater artist."

ThePaper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation are modeled after the Tony Awards, and Paper Mill Playhouse's program serves the entire state of New Jersey, with a 99 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools. Additionally, the new category of Outstanding Solo Performance encouraged video submissions of student performances from schools who did not produce a full musical, or whose show dates fell outside of the Rising Star program dates. Paper Mill Playhouse conceived and created the awards in 1996 to give schools the opportunity to showcase their musical arts programs on a statewide level. The musicals are adjudicated by Paper Mill Playhouse throughout the spring by a group of 45 Evaluators, with each school receiving three independent evaluations. Schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Musical and Leading Actor/Actress nominees perform at the event, and award recipients are presented with an engraved crystal award from Tiffany & Co.

"Investors Foundation is proud to celebrate the incredible achievements of this year's Rising Stars. The fact that so many Rising Star nominees and winners have gone on to achieve success is proof positive that recognizing and celebrating achievement is of enormous benefit to our student artists. What's more, these awards also give us a chance to recognize the dedicated educators behind the scenes that make excellence par for the course in their schools every day." Domenick Cama, Investors Foundation Trustee and President NYC Metro, Investors Bank, a division of Citizens Bank, N.A.

Paper Mill Playhouse also awards $5,000 in scholarships at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation. Five $1,000 cash scholarships are given to outstanding individual students who plan to continue studying theater performance or technical theater in college. Paper Mill Playhouse is pleased to award a prize of $500 to a school receiving the 2022 Educational Impact Award, which acknowledges a school that successfully connects the musical to the district's curriculum, using the production as a teaching tool for the greater student body and local community. Through the Rising Star "Theatre for Everyone" Inclusion and Access Award and a partnership with The Cultural Access Network of New Jersey, a project of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Paper Mill Playhouse will present a cash award of $1,000 to a school to recognize excellence in the promotion and practice of creative inclusion of students and adults with disabilities as performers, designers, musicians and production staff. Additionally, this award seeks to recognize and reward a school that takes steps to ensure their performances are accessible to audiences with disabilities.

Lastly, students receiving final nominations in the lead and supporting acting categories receive a scholarship to Paper Mill Playhouse's competitive Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, a professional training program, which, along with advanced classes in singing, acting and dance, offers the nominees an opportunity to perform in the season finale concert, "New Voices of 2022: A Whole New World: A Tribute to Alan Menken" on July 29 & 30 on the main stage at Paper Mill Playhouse. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at PaperMill.org, or calling the box office at 973-376-4343.


2022 Rising Star Awards Nominations and Honorable Mentions

Outstanding Overall Production


Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE
Ridge High School - MATILDA
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES
Summit High School - FOOTLOOSE
West Milford Township High School - ANASTASIA

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Female-Identified Role


Academy for Performing Arts at Union County Vocational Technical Schools - LEGALLY BLONDE - Talia Fabrizzio as "Elle Woods"
Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - Leah Rose Crossan as "Esmerelda"
Columbia High School - NEWSIES - Grace Trenouth as "Katherine Plumber"
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA - Katie Walsh as "Cinderella"
Jonathan Dayton High School - CHICAGO - Gabby Gutierrez as "Roxie Hart"
Ridge High School - MATILDA - Libby Schmitt as "Matilda"
West Milford Township High School - ANASTASIA - Mia Grizzuti as "Anya"

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Male-Identified Role

Academy of the Holy Angels - THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE - Thomas Snyder as "William Barfee"
Hopewell Valley Central High School - BIG FISH - Elliott Block as "Edward Bloom"
Jose Marti STEM Academy - CABARET - Carlos de la Cruz as "The Emcee"
Piscataway High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL - Najm Muhammad as "SpongeBob SquarePants"
Saint Peter's Preparatory School - JEKYLL AND HYDE - Nicholas Matos as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
Somerville High School LES MISÉRABLES - Marcello Fois as "Javert"
West Milford Township High School - ANASTASIA - Jason Pritchett as "Dmitry"

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Female-Identified Role

Columbia High School - NEWSIES - Rocky Anicette as Medda Larkin"
Ewing High School - THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE - Maddie Marsola as "Rona Lisa Peretti"
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE - Taylor Terry as "Paulette Bonafonte"
Ocean County Vocational Technical School - BRING IT ON - AJ Ring as "Bridget"
Ridge High School - MATILDA - Rachel Vanek as "Miss Honey"
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES - Ashley Hoberman as "Cosette"
Westfield High School - MAMMA MIA! - Kayla Louison as "Tanya Chesham-Leigh"

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Male-Identified Role

Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - Adam Bathurst as "Claude Frollo"
Columbia High School - NEWSIES - Alex Iozzio as Davey"
Ewing High School - THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE - Jayden White as "Chip Tolentino"
Northern Highlands Regional High School - SOMETHING ROTTEN! - Patrick Keeble as "Nigel Bottom"
Ridge High School - MATILDA - Oscar Grob as "Mr. Wormwood"
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES - Gavin Lesnevich as "Thenardier"
Summit High School - FOOTLOOSE - Evan Gunter as "Reverend Shaw"

Outstanding Performance by a Featured Performer

Columbia High School - NEWSIES - Katie Trzaska as "Race"
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA - Erica Watts as Charlotte"
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE - Katherine Ryan as "Vivienne Kensington"
Morristown High School - SOMETHING ROTTEN! - Peyton Wild as "Nostradamus"
Morristown-Beard High School -SWEET CHARITY - Alana Smith as "Mama Brubeck"
Oakcrest High School - MEMPHIS - Elliot Newman as "Bobby"
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES - Maya Handler as "Madame Thenardier"

Nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus

Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE
Morristown High School - SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Ridge High School - MATILDA
Summit High School - FOOTLOOSE

Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Group

Columbia High School - NEWSIES - "Bowery Beauties"
Hillsborough High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL - "Sardines"
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE - "Delta Nu Greek Chorus"
Moorestown High School - HONK! - "Ducklings"
Morristown-Beard School - SWEET CHARITY - "Dance Hall Girls"
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - MISÉRABLES - "Lovely Ladies"
Somerville High School - LES MISÉRABLES - "Students"

Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Member

Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - Jacob Stiles as "Saint Aphrodisius"
Delaware Valley Regional High School - PETER PAN - Dakota Krouse as "Slightly Soiled"
Gloucester County Institute of Technology - CHICAGO: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION - Colin McMahon as "Fred Casely"
Northern Valley Regional High School Demarest - LEGALLY BLONDE - Noa Saban as "Serena"
Overbrook High School - FOOTLOOSE - Simone Pratt as "Cowgirl Barb"
Ridge High School - MATILDA - Gabriel Subervi as "Escapologist/Doctor"
West Milford Township High School - ANASTASTIA - Jaidan Becker as "Count Ipolitov"

Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher or Outside Director

Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - Paul Sommers
Columbia High School - NEWSIES - Tricia Benn, Bethany Pettigrew
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA - Matt DiDonato
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE - Jodi Capeless
Moorestown High School - HONK! - Erica Scanlon Harr
Ridge High School - MATILDA - Martha Harvey
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES - Morgan Knight

Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging

Academy for Performing Arts at Union County Vocational Technical Schools - LEGALLY BLONDE
Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Hopewell Valley Central High School - BIG FISH
Summit High School - FOOTLOOSE
Ridge High School - MATILDA
Union City High School - CHICAGO: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION
West Milford Township High School - ANASTASIA

Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction

Academy for Performing Arts at Union County Vocational Technical Schools - LEGALLY BLONDE
Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE
Morristown High School - SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Ridge High School - MATILDA
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISÉRABLES

Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

Carteret High School - CHICAGO: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION
Jose Marti STEM Academy - CABARET
Morristown High School - SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Newark Academy - MAMMA MIA!
Ridge High School - MATILDA
Princeton HS CURTAINS: SCHOOL EDITION
Summit High School - FOOTLOOSE

Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design

Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Harrison High School - THE APPLE TREE
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE
Midland Park High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
Moorestown High School - HONK!
Ridge High School - MATILDA

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting

Clearview Regional High School - THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Harrison High School - THE APPLE TREE
Hopewell Valley Central High School - Big Fish
Immaculate Heart Academy - LEGALLY BLONDE
Midland Park High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
Ridge High School - MATILDA

Outstanding Achievement in Costuming

Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Harrison High School - THE APPLE TREE
Hopewell Valley Central High School - BIG FISH
Midland Park High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
Pinelands Regional High School - THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Piscataway High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
Ridge High School - MATILDA

Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make Up

Columbia High School - NEWSIES
Haddonfield High School - RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Hammonton High School - SHREK THE MUSICAL
Harrison High School - THE APPLE TREE
Midland Park High School - THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
Moorestown High School - HONK!
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School - LES MISERABLES

Outstanding Solo Performance (Video submission)

Atlantic County Institute of Technology, "Elaborate Lives", performed by Ben Silvesti
Atlantic County Institute of Technology, "How I Know You", Dominic Roberts
Dover High School, "It Won't Long Now", Alyssa Correa
High Tech High School, "What Kind of Fool", Avery Ramsey
High Tech High School, "Raise a Little Hell", Christopher Martinez
High Tech High School, "Show Off", Hannah Beemer
Livingston High School, "If I Were a Rich Man", Jonah Ruderman

Student Achievement Award (student non-performance roles)

Academy of the Holy Angels, Chloe Ibrahim, Assistant Director
Carteret High School, Jossue Torres, Stage Manager
Carteret High School Pottery Pereira, Lighting
Carteret High School Nia Serrano, Dance Captain
Fair Lawn High School, Rebecca Peisach, Script Coordinator
Harrison High School, Rafael Andrade, Assistant Stage Manager
Holmdel High School, Nicole DiBlasi, Gisela Cubas, Rocco Impreveduto, Social Media/Marketing
Jose Marti STEM Academy, Melanie Arias, Stage Manager
Morristown High School, Arthur Wawrzyniak, Sound
Morristown High School Heidy Carranza, Assistant Pit Director
Morristown High School Dalia Elkady, Hair/Makeup/Poster Art
Mount Olive High School, Isabella Alvarez, Photographer
New Milford High School Kayla Santos, Costumes
Newton High School Abigail Nicholas, Sound/Stage Manager
Northern Valley Regional High School at Demerest, Elisa Longhini Xavier, Stage Manager
Randolph High School, Nicholas Zelley, Lead Set Builder
Ridge High School,Jordan Perla, Student Director
Summit High School,Sydney Veloso, Dance Captain
West Milford Township High School, Amanda Dellagicoma, Projections
West Milford Township High School, Langdon Frey, Sound

Outstanding Educator Award

Collier High School - Dr. Michael Penna
Harrison High School - Colin Shields
Madison High School - Blake Spence
Mount Olive High School - Jodi Bosch
Piscataway High School - Erik Hall
Ridge High School - Martha Harvey

Educational Impact Award

Christian Brothers Academy
Morristown High School
Mount Olive High School
Perth Amboy High School

Rising Star Theatre for Everyone Inclusion and Access Award

Eastern Regional High School
Madison High School
Moorestown High School
Morristown High School
Randolph High School
Ridge High School


PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is one of the country's leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.



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