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Rita Moreno California High School Musical Honors Announces 2019 Winners

Rita Moreno California High School Musical Honors Announces 2019 Winners

A panel of nationally recognized judges- include casting director Michael Donovan, producer, director, and choreographer Andy Ferrara, and Broadway actress and musical theater professor Tory Ross Roman-announced the 2019 winners of The Rita Moreno California High School Musical Honors held last night at San Jose's Center for the Performing Arts.

Sponsored by Children’s Musical Theater San Jose (CMT) and Broadway San Jose, a Nederlander Presentation, this yearly regional awards competition is coordinated by CMT's Rita Moreno Awards Program Director Deanna Knudsen and recognizes outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre in the greater California region. The evening's showcase of leading actors and actresses was staged by CMT's Artistic Director Kevin Hauge.

Legendary Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award-winning actress Rita Moreno graciously attended the Nominee Welcome an hour prior to the ceremony to share advice, stories, and encouragement from her decades in the performing arts industry. She kicked off the ceremony with a welcome to the audience. After the medleys, she shared her enthusiasm and said she was very impressed with the performances. She also announced and handed out the winning trophies to 'Lead Actor in a Musical' and 'Lead Actress in a Musical.'

This year's winners are:

Bright Star
Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, CA)

Luciano Castaldo
"Gomez Addams" in The Addams Family
Inspire School of Arts and Sciences (Chico, CA)

Lauryn Thomas
"Paulette" in Legally Blonde
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

Carson Merrick
"Prez" in The Pajama Game
Dublin High School (Dublin, CA)

Alyssa Hall
"Bambi Bernet" in Curtains
The King's Academy (Sunnyvale, CA)

Bright Star
Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, CA)

Luciano Castaldo ('Lead Actor in a Musical') and Lauryn Thomas ('Lead Actress in a Musical') will join over 80 winners from 40 regional programs across the nation atThe National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA)- also known asthe Jimmy™ Awards-in New York City, where they will perform on Monday, June 24 on Broadway's Minskoff Theatre stage before industry experts and compete for scholarship opportunities to New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Tony Award winner Ben Platt will serve as host. All nominees will prepare for their debut on a Broadway stage during a ten-day professional training intensive with NYU Tisch School of the Arts' New Studio with Broadway faculty members, plus other theatre professionals.

The National High School Musical Theatre Awards was established in 2009 to elevate the importance of theatre arts education in schools and reward excellence in student performance. The program impacts over 100,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by forty professional theatres throughout the United States.

Since its inception, NHSMTA has been the catalyst for more than $2,000,000 in educational scholarships awarded to deserving young performers. Also known as The Jimmy Awards, named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, this year-round program is administered by The Broadway League Foundation, Inc., The Broadway League's charitable foundation. Its mission is to enlighten and increase the public's knowledge, appreciation and awareness of the theatrical arts and to provide a forum for the discussion of issues relating to the preservation and promotion of live theatre as a vital and culturally significant artistic medium.

Thanks to the support of its participating League member theatres and donors, NHSMTA continues to grow. In 2012, the program inspired PBS to produce a 3-part documentary series called "Broadway or Bust," which followed students on a journey from their hometown competitions to their debut at the Minskoff Theatre. The series premiered in September 2012 and was showcased in 100% of PBS's Top 50 strategic markets, ranking as one of their most highly rated programs. It remains popular viewing at

The depth, scope, and education-centric mission of NHSMTA coupled with its extensive television and media exposure has made participating in the program an aspiration for a growing number of high schools. Based on feedback from participating theatres, school administrators are now directing both human and financial resources to improve the quality of theatre arts education in their districts. This renewed enthusiasm for the performing arts in schools is already helping to invigorate local theatres and the communities they serve. For more information, please visit

Photo: Luciano Castaldo (winner, Best Actor in a Musical) and Lauryn Thomas (winner, Best Actress in a Musical)
Photo courtesy of Children's Musical Theatrer San Jose


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