Papermill Announces Rising Star Award Winners

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 early nominees and winners like film actress Anne Hathaway, and Tony® nominee Laura Benanti who is currently starring on Broadway opposite Patti LuPone in Gypsy, Jared Gertner's name was called to accept the very first Rising Star Award for an Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.  After appearing as "The Lion" in Toms River North High School's production of The Wiz, Jared later made his Broadway debut in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  His return to the Paper Mill stage as "Seymour" in Little Shop of Horrors marks the first time a Paper Mill Rising Star winner will star in a main stage production.

The Rising Star Awards are modeled after the Tony® Awards and Paper Mill's program serves the entire state of New Jersey with 100 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools.  The musicals are adjudicated throughout the spring by a group of 65 Evaluators, with each school receiving four independent evaluations.  The 2008 Rising Star Award nominations were announced on May 12th, and the gala awards ceremony at Paper Mill Playhouse was on June 10th in which the nominees performed and the award recipients were presented with a crystal award from Rising Star Award partner Tiffany's & Co.  Investors Savings Bank Foundation is title sponsor of the 2008 Rising Star Awards.

The Rising Star Awards are one of several such programs sponsored by regional theatres around the country.  The National Alliance of Musical Theatre (NAMT) has hopes to expand the number of such awards programs nationally and to eventually unite the winning student performers from the various regions in a national festival or similar gathering.

Paper Mill Director of Education, Lisa Cooney adds, "What's happening in high schools musical productions here in New Jersey and around the country is remarkable.  Programs like the Rising Star Awards have raised the bar and create opportunities for student performers and theatre technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarship money.  Many of Paper Mill's Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and we consistently hear from top tier colleges and casting directors that the Paper Mill Rising Star Award is a significant accolade for an aspiring theatre artist."

Paper Mill Playhouse also awards $60,000 in scholarship money at the Rising Star Awards. Three $1000 cash scholarships to outstanding individual students participating in entered Rising Star Award productions, who plan to continue studying theatre in college. A technical theatre scholarship is sponsored annually by Scaramouche Costumes, LLC.  Paper Mill has also partnered with Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey to offer a renewable scholarship worth $14,000 each year to a selected student participating in an entered Rising Star Award production wishing to major in musical theatre.

Lastly, students receiving final nominations in the lead and supporting acting categories automatically receive a full 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 on the stage at Paper Mill in our August season finale concert, "New Voices 2008:  Paper Mill Goes Platinum, Celebrating 70 Years of Entertainment!"

Among the nominated high schools, Gill St. Bernard's School led the evening with four Rising Star Award wins including the award for Outstanding Overall Production.  Bloomfield High School, Howell High School, Northern Highlands Regional High School, St. Joseph Regional High School, Summit High School, and Union High School each won two Rising Star Awards.  Bergen County Academies, Don Bosco Preparatory School, Fairlawn High School, Morristown High School, and Point Pleasant Borough High School each won one Rising Star Award.

The Rising Star Awards Program is made possible by Investors Savings Bank Foundation, Tiffany & Co., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Wyeth, The Ambrose & Ida Fredrickson Foundation, John Burgio and Ruth Bedford in memory of Jane Burgio, and The Bloomingdale's Fund of the Federated Department Stores Foundation.

Paper Mill's Education Outreach programs are generously supported by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, PNC Bank, Shirley Aidekman-Kaye, and The Mall at Short Hills. Paper Mill's programming is made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse received funding through a grant from the New Jersey Department of State.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theatres.  Paper Mill's programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Additional major support is provided by funding through a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts, and generous contributions from many corporations, foundations, and individuals.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

2008 Rising Star Award Recipients

 Outstanding Graphic Design
Jane Cracovaner, David Pitt, Richard Stone, Sarah Gardner, and Michael Maguire
Morristown High School
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

 Outstanding Lobby Display
Carol Hassert and Sherri Strauss Williamson
Summit High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Outstanding Hair and Make-up Achievement
Chelsea Cicci, Jessica Barton and Derek Hanson
Bloomfield High School
CATS

Outstanding Costuming Achievement
Paul Canada and Lynn Helferich
Gill St. Bernard's School
THE SECRET GARDEN

Outstanding Lighting Achievement
Ryan J. Bell
Don Bosco Preparatory High School
BYE, BYE BIRDIE

Outstanding Scenic Achievement
Paul Canada and John Helferich
Gill St. Bernard's School
THE SECRET GARDEN

Outstanding Chorography
Lisa Twamley
Howell High School
WEST SIDE STORY

Outstanding Musical Direction
Amy and David Southerland
Gill St. Bernard's School
THE SECRET GARDEN

Outstanding Direction (TIE)
Cormac McGowen and Chelsea Cicci
Bloomfield High School
CATS
-AND-
Thomas Paster
Northern Highlands Regional High School
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Outstanding Orchestra
Union High School
THE WIZ

Outstanding Chorus
Summit High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Outstanding Ensemble Group
"The Jets"
Howell High School
WEST SIDE STORY

Outstanding Featured Ensemble Member
Taylor Brown as "Mdm. de la Grande Bouche"
Northern Highlands High School
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Outstanding Supporting Actress
Alliy Drago as "Anita"
St. Joseph Regional High School
WEST SIDE STORY

Outstanding Supporting Actor
Michael Schwitter as "Dickon"
Bergen County Academies
THE SECRET GARDEN

 Outstanding Leading Actress (TIE)
Kelsey Robertson as "Maria"
Point Pleasant Borough High School
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
-AND-
Jahlisa Norton as "Dorothy"
Union High School
THE WIZ

Outstanding Leading Actor
Alex Kahn as "Charley Kringas"
Fair Lawn High School
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

Educational Impact Award
St. Joseph Regional High School
WEST SIDE STORY

Outstanding Overall Production
Gill St. Bernard's School
THE SECRET GARDEN

2008 Student Achievement Award Recipients

Architecture Ensemble Director/ Choreographer
Brianna Delfs
Bergen County Academies
THE SECRET GARDEN

Stage Manager
Brian DeVito
Bridgewater – Raritan Academies
THE SECRET GARDEN

Student Film Directors
Justin Pagano and TJ Russell
Montville Township High School
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

 Technical Theatre
Henry Meola
Nutley High School
WEST SIDE STORY

Assistant to Directors, Props/ Effects Design
Larry Giannechini
Shore Regional High School
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Student Director
Lauren Ciaravalli
Summit High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Costume Crew
Summit High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Hair and Make-up Crew
Summit High School
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

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