Paper Mill Playhouse Reveals 2024 Rising Star Award Winners

The Academy of the Holy Angels (Demarest, NJ) production of Urinetown was awarded Outstanding Overall Production.

By: Jun. 14, 2024
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Paper Mill Playhouse Reveals 2024 Rising Star Award Winners Paper Mill Playhouse has revealed the winners of the 29th annual Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater following the June 11th ceremony. The Academy of the Holy Angels (Demarest, NJ) production of Urinetown was awarded Outstanding Overall Production, Outstanding Performance in a Female-Identified Leading Role went to Kelly Clark as “Dee Dee Allen” in the OCVTS Grunin Performing Arts Academy (Lakewood, NJ) of The Prom and Outstanding Performance in a Male-Identified Leading Role was won by David Gomez as “Gomez Addams” in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (Scotch Plains, NJ) production of The Addams Family. 
 
The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards presented by Investors Foundation and Citizens Philanthropic Foundation are modeled after the Tony Awards and serves the entire state of New Jersey. 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. Among previous 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, Suffs), Tony nominee Rob McClure (Mrs. Doubtfire, Chaplin), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Josh De La Cruz ("Blues Clues & You!," Aladdin), Shanice Williams, (NBC’s "The Wiz Live!") and Olivier Award nominee Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon).
 
The 2024 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Production Round began January 18 and continued for 13 weeks through April 14. During the Production Round musicals at 117 New Jersey high schools in 19 counties were reviewed by more than 70 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards evaluators, with each school receiving three independent evaluations. Schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Musical and all the Leading Performer nominees performed at the 2024 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Ceremony. Recipients are presented with an engraved crystal award from Tiffany & Co.
 
Paper Mill Playhouse also awards $7,000 in scholarships at the Rising Star Awards Presented by Investors Foundation. Seven 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 2024 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 “Theater 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 also 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. This award seeks to recognize and reward a school that takes steps to ensure their performances are accessible to audiences with disabilities. Student Achievement Awards are given to outstanding student production designers, creative directors and technical theater technicians. The Outstanding Educator Award garners a $1,000 prize for the recipients’ school theater programs.
 
Lastly, students receiving final nominations in the lead and supporting performance categories receive a scholarship to attend Paper Mill Playhouse's competitive Summer Musical Theater Conservatory and New Voices Concert, a professional training program with advanced classes in singing, acting and dance. New Voices offers the nominees an opportunity to perform on the main stage at Paper Mill Playhouse in the season finale concert celebrating the regional theater’s 85 seasons, "New Voices of 2024: Endless Ovations," on July 26 & 27. New Voices tickets are on sale at PaperMill.org.
 
The Rising Star Awards presented by Investors Foundation and Citizens Philanthropic Foundation are supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

2024 RISING STAR AWARDS WINNERS

OUTSTANDING OVERALL PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL

Academy of the Holy Angels (Demarest, NJ), URINETOWN

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER IN A FEMALE-IDENTIFIED LEADING ROLE

OCVTS Grunin Performing Arts Academy (Lakewood, NJ), THE PROM, Kelly Clark as “Dee Dee Allen”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER IN A MALE-IDENTIFIED LEADING ROLE

Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS (Scotch Plains, NJ), THE ADDAMS FAMILY, David Gomez as “Gomez Addams”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER IN A FEMALE-IDENTIFIED SUPPORTING ROLE

Sayreville War Memorial HS (Parlin, NJ), TUCK EVERLASTING, Gianna Roman as “Mae Tuck”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER IN A MALE-IDENTIFIED SUPPORTING ROLE

Cherry Hill HS East (Cherry Hill, NJ), MEAN GIRLS: HS EDITION, Aviv Haroz as “Damian Hubbard”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A FEATURED ROLE

Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Ashley Hoberman as “Alice Beineke”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ENSEMBLE MEMBER

Delaware Valley Regional (Frenchtown, NJ), NEWSIES, Maxim Verdicchio as “Albert”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ENSEMBLE GROUP

Academy of the Holy Angels, URINETOWN, “The Rebel Poor”

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CHORUS

Academy for Performing Arts at UCVTS (Rahway, NJ), 42ND STREET

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ORCHESTRA

Shawnee HS (Medford, NJ), SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT BY A TEACHER OR OUTSIDE DIRECTOR

Academy of the Holy Angels, URINETOWN, Katie Collins

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC DIRECTION

Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone, NJ), SHE LOVES ME, Paul H. Canada, Jack Williams III

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHOREOGRAPHY AND STAGING

Academy for Performing Arts at UCVTS, 42ND STREET, Jensyn Modero

OUTSTANDING SCENIC ACHIEVEMENT

Ridge HS (Basking Ridge, NJ), SOMETHING ROTTEN!, Jason M. Stewart
 
OUTSTANDING LIGHTING ACHIEVEMENT

Harrison HS (Harrison, NJ), STARMITES: HIGH SCHOOL, Colin Shields

OUTSTANDING COSTUMING ACHIEVEMENT

Gill St. Bernard’s School, SHE LOVES ME, Paul H. Canada

OUTSTANDING HAIR AND MAKE-UP ACHIEVEMENT

Harrison HS, STARMITES: HIGH SCHOOL, Colin Shields

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE (DIGITAL SUBMISSION)

Bridgewater Raritan HS (Bridgewater, NJ), “All For The Best”, GODSPELL, Cole Januzzi

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Academy for Performing Arts at UCVTS, 42ND STREET, Julie Cariello, Dramaturg
Madison HS (Madison, NJ), MAMMA MIA!, Leland Borcherding, Daania Fakhar, Lighting Assts. Manasquan HS (Mansquan, NJ), INTO THE WOODS, Jessica Slovak, Student Choreographer Marlboro HS (Marlboro, NJ), CHICAGO, Julia Catuogno, Production Stage Manager
Ocean Township HS (Oakhurst, NJ), MEAN GIRLS, Maya Stein, Hair & Makeup
Princeton HS (Princeton, NJ), BEAUTY & THE BEAST, Colin Lansky, Projection Designer Princeton HS, BEAUTY & THE BEAST, Isabella Kolleeny, Lead Painter
Princeton HS, BEAUTY & THE BEAST, Florencia Curchitser, Lighting Designer
Ridgefield Park Jr/Sr HS (Ridgefield, NJ), CHICAGO, Ryan Flynn, Costume Designer Woodstown HS (Woodstown, NJ), BRIGADOON, Colin Schmidt, Stange Manager

THE EDUCATIONAL IMPACT AWARD

Madison HS, MAMMA MIA!
Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, NJ), THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL

RISING STAR “THEATER FOR EVERYONE” INCLUSION AND ACCESS AWARD

Mt. Olive HS (Flanders, NJ), ROCK OF AGES

OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR AWARD

Mount Olive HS, Jodi Bosch
North Star Academy (Newark, NJ), Jessica Lisboa
The Pingry School (Basking Ridge, NJ), Joseph Napolitano
 



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