Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2016 Rising Star Award nominations

MILLBURN, NJ — As one of the nation’s leading regional theaters and producing partners for Broadway, Paper Mill Playhouse has a well-earned reputation for launching both performers and shows for the Great White Way. The theater will be the recipient of this year’s Regional Theatre Tony Award. 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, Tony Award winners Laura Benanti and Nikki M. James, Tony Award nominee Rob McClure, and Olivier Award nominee Jared Gertner.

The 2016 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards, presented at the Investors Foundation ceremony, will take place at Paper Mill Playhouse on Tuesday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m., featuring presenters from Broadway and beyond. The ceremony will be broadcast live on television and online through Paper Mill Playhouse video partner, Hometowne Television, of Summit.

Among the top nominated high schools are Summit High School with 18 nominations, followed by Union High School with 12 nominations, Westfield High School with 11 nominations and Columbia High School in Maplewood with 10 nominations.

“We are very excited to celebrate excellence in high school musical theater with the students of New Jersey,” Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill’s producing artistic director, said in a press release. “For many New Jersey schools, the prestigious honor of a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star nomination is the culmination of their hard work in a high school musical. Many of our Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have won esteemed industry awards while working in theater and film.”

Paper Mill Director of Education Lisa Cooney explained: “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.”

The Paper 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 nearly 100 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools. 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 70 evaluators, with each school receiving four 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.

“We are proud to support the 2016 Rising Star Awards,” Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings said in the release. “All of the nominees put in a tremendous amount of time and hard work into their productions, and it has certainly shown with all the amazing shows put on this year. Best of luck to all the nominees!”

Paper Mill Playhouse also awards $5,000 in scholarships at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards.  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 will also award a prize of $500 to a school receiving the 2016 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 VSA New Jersey and 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 onstage at Paper Mill Playhouse in the season finale concert,”New Voices of 2016: Everything Old is New Again!” on July 29 and 30.

The 2016 Rising Star Awards are also supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and MetLife Foundation. Rising Star scholarships are made possible by Ruth Bedford in memory of Jane Burgio, Walt Santner in honor of Janet Sovey, and the Douglas Michael Krueger Scholarship Fund Trust.  The “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion and Access Award is supported by VSA New Jersey and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is grateful for generous contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals.

The following are the 2016 Rising Star Awards nominations and honorable mentions:

  • Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical — final nominations: Academy of the Holy Angels for “Children of Eden”; Columbia High School for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Fair Lawn High School for “Chaplin the Musical”; Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School for “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Summit High School for “Mary Poppins”; Union High School also for “Mary Poppins”; and Westfield High School for “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Morristown-Beard School for “Pippin”; Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan for “How to Succeed in Business”; and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South for “A Chorus Line.”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role — Haneefah James as “Dorothy” in Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts’s “The Wiz”; Claire Wolfson as “The Baker’s Wife” in Delaware Valley Reg. High School’s “Into the Woods”; Mollie DeFilippo as “Gertrude McFuzz” in James Caldwell High School’s “Seussical”; Makenzi Schaefer as “Lucy” in Morris Hills High School’s “Jekyll & Hyde”; Najah Hetsberger as “Mary Poppins” in Rahway High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Kathryn Mazza as “Ariel” in Red Bank Catholic High School’s “The Little Mermaid”; and Claire Fitzpatrick as “Mary Poppins” in Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and — honorable mentions: Taylor Bera as “Olive Ostrovsky” in Christian Brothers Academy’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”; Alysa Finnegan as “Ariel” in Mater Dei High School’s “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”; Nicole Tsarouhas as “Dolly Levi” in Moorestown High School’s “Hello, Dolly!”; and Caroline Scobee as “Alice Nutting/Edwin Drood” in Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role — final nominations: Nick Berninger as “Father” in Academy of the Holy Angels’ “Children of Eden”; Trevor Braun as “Charlie Chaplin” in Fair Lawn High School’s “Chaplin the Musical”; William Taitel as “Jekyll/Hyde” in Morris Hills High School’s “Jekyll & Hyde”; Sean McManus as “Bert” in Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Jonathan Duvelson in Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Caleb Hafen as “Usnavi” in West Morris Central High School’s “In The Heights”; and Tony Peer as “The Baker” in Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Dylan Coker as “Bert” in Franklin High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Michael Akakpo as “Bert” in Rahway High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Dominick Gonzalez as “Henry Higgins” in Vernon Township High School’s “My Fair Lady.”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role — final nominations: Ashley Diana as “Ursula” in Mater Dei High School’s “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”; Alyssa Shoemaker as “Eponine” in Morris Knolls High School’s “Les Miserables: School Edition”; Jasmin Palmer as “Fraulein Schneider” in Pingry School’s “Cabaret”; Samantha Siriani as “Ursula” in Red Bank Catholic High School’s “The Little Mermaid”; Sara Miller as “Angela Prysock/Princess Puffer” in Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Catie Floegel as “Winifred Banks” in Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Emma Kothari as “Diana Morales” in West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South’s “A Chorus Line”; and — honorable mentions: Jillian Coleman as “Hedda Hopper” in Fair Lawn High School’s “Chaplin The Musical”; Jenna Craig as ”Cosette” in River Dell Senior High School’s “Les Miserables: School Edition”; and Rianna LeHane as “Little Sally” in St. Joseph Regional High School’s “Urinetown.”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role — final nominations: Neil McCaffrey as “Lord Farquaad” in Chatham High School’s “Shrek”; Grant King as “Lumiere” in Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Thomas Short as “Charlemagne” in High Tech High School’s “Pippin”; Ross Turkington as “Cookie McGee” in Montclair Kimberley Academy’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It”; Brett Jones as “Ryan Evans” in Sayreville War Memorial High School’s “Disney’s High School Musical”; Keegan McManus as “George Banks” in Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Frank Guerriero as “Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf” in Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Michael Moore   as “Sir Robin” in Absegami High School’s “Spamalot”; Bill Fitzpatrick as “Cain/Japheth” in Academy of Holy Angels’ “Children of Eden”; and Joseph McDonald as “Officer Lockstock” in St. Joseph Regional High School’s “Urinetown.”
  • Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role — final nominations: Jack Broderick as “Nicely-Nicely Johnson” in Bernards High School’s “Guys and Dolls”; Nicki Kissil as “Hannah Chaplin” in Fair Lawn High School’s “Chaplin the Musical”; Max Vigotov as “Scuttle” in Madison High School’s “The Little Mermaid”; Liam Gerard as “Duke Mahoney” in Montclair Kimberley Academy’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It”; Lisette Serrano as “Miss Andrew” and Crystal Wright as “Mrs. Corry,” both in Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Eric Judson as “Paul” in West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South’s “A Chorus Line”; and — honorable mentions: Hunter Kovacs as “Cogsworth” and Matthew Lintern as “Lefou,” both in Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; and Julianna Belles as “Asaka” in Morris County School of Technology’s “Once on This Island.”
  • Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Member — final nominations: Greg Lobo as “Big Jule” in Bernards High School’s “Guys and Dolls”; Dylan Kelly as “Lurch” in Clearview Regional High School’s “The Addams Family”; Kenneth Steimle as “Grantaire/Bamatabois” in River Dell Senior High School’s “Les Miserables: School Edition”; Jenny Greener as “Emma Parker” in Rumson-Fair Haven Reg. High School’s “Bonnie and Clyde”; and Daniel Pokras as “Kyle” in Secaucus High School’s “Legally Blonde”; and — honorable mentions: Ed Nowak as “Carl” in Christian Brothers Academy’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”; Andrea Shlesinger as “Girl in the Water” in Mount Olive High School’s “Big Fish”; and Erik Dannenberg as “Lurch” in Ridge High School’s “The Addams Family.”
  • Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Group — final nominations: “Peron’s Mistresses” in Bergen County Academies’ “Evita”; “Silly Girls” in Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; “Mansion Trio” in Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; “Secretaries” in Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan’s “How to Succeed in Business”; “Sweeps” in Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and “Sweeps” in Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and — honorable mentions: “Duloc Performers” in Chatham High School’s “Shrek”; “Mersisters” in Madison High School’s “The Little Mermaid”; and “The Poor” in Pascack Valley High School’s “Urinetown.”
  • Outstanding Performance by a Chorus — final nominations: Academy of the Holy Angels for “Children of Eden”; Columbia High School for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Cranford High School for “Fiddler on the Roof”; Rahway High School for “Mary Poppins”; Summit High School for “Mary Poppins”; Union High School for “Mary Poppins”; and Westfield High School for “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Morristown-Beard School for “Pippin”; Princeton Day School for “The Boyfriend”; and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South for “A Chorus Line.”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra — final nominations: Fair Lawn High School for “Chaplin the Musical”; Mount Olive High School for “Big Fish”; Rahway High School for “Mary Poppins”; Summit High School for “Mary Poppins”; Ridge High School for “The Addams Family”; and West Morris Central High School for “In The Heights”; and — honorable mentions: Franklin High School for “Mary Poppins”; Hillsborough High School for “Into the Woods”; and Westfield High School for “Into the Woods.
  • Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher or Outside Director — final nominations: Katie McSherry for Academy of the Holy Angels’ “Children of Eden”; Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; John Giresi for Fair Lawn High School’s “Chaplin the Musical”; Matthew Capodicasa for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Anne Poyner for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; James Mosser for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Daniel Devlin for Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Susan Speidel for Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; Susan Van Buskirk for Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan’s “How to Succeed in Business”; and Marilyn Magnone Stoddard for West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South’s “A Chorus Line.”
  • Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction — final nominations: George Croom Academy of the Holy Angels’ “Children of Eden”; Jamie Bunce and Peter Bauer for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Ben Krauss for Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; Janine Nehila and Amy Wilcox for Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan’s “How to Succeed in Business”; Jan Allen and Durand Thomas for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Wayne Mallette and Steve Rapp for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and James Mosser and Laura Muller for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and — honorable mentions: Nick DeGregorio, Mark Baron and Lynn C. Berry for Cranford High School’s “Fiddler on the Roof”; Robert Van Wyk for Rahway High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and David Westawski and Jesse Argenziano for West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South’s “A Chorus Line.”
  • Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging — final nominations: Ariane Ryan for Academy of the Holy Angels’ “Children of Eden”; Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Marci Lee Moriarty for Perth Amboy High School’s “The Addams Family”; Kelly Mott-Sacks for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Yasmin Maher for Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy’s “West Side Story”; Jennifer Williams for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Marilyn Mangone Stoddard for West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South’s “A Chorus Line”; and — honorable mentions: Jim ruttman for Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; Ann Robideaux for Princeton Day School’s “The Boyfriend”; and Alison Dooley for Rahway High School’s “Mary Poppins.”
  • Outstanding Scenic Achievement — final nominations: Annette Murphy, Steve Maietta, Nicole Cole and Celia Gollub for Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan’s “How to Succeed in Business”; Robert Vendetti for Passaic County Technical Institute’s “Man of La Mancha”; Jason M. Stewart for Ridge High School’s “The Addams Family”; Jeffrey Allen for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Travis McHale for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Diane Esquivel and James Mosser for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Roy Chambers for Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Jon Zaccone and Vance Entertainment for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Clifton Chadick for High Tech High School’s “Pippin”; and Ron Kadri for West Morris Central High School’s “In The Heights.”
  • Outstanding Lighting Achievement — final nominations: Tara Marie Abbondante for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Mark Reilly for Cranford High School’s “Fiddler on the Roof”; Andrew Scharwath for Fair Lawn High School’s “Chaplin the Musical”; Dave Kern for Ridge High School’s “The Addams Family”; Coby Chasman-Beck for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; Catherine Scanlon, Emily Scanlon and Jeff Bettencourt for Vineland High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Sharp Edge Lighting Design for Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Zach Pizza for Madison High School’s “The Little Mermaid”; Nicholas Marmo for Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; and Jeff Christian for Mount Olive High School’s “Big Fish.”
  • Outstanding Costuming Achievement — final nominations: Janet Adamo, Victoria Peru and Terry Thiry for Bergen County Academies’ “Evita”; Barbara Fertakos for Chatham High School’s “Shrek”; Paul H. Canada and Beth Holland for Gill St. Bernard’s School’s “The Boyfriend”; Deb Sugarman for Princeton Day School’s “The Boyfriend”; Joanne Sprague for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Katherine Winter for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and James Mosser, Jennifer Williams and Leslie Laurino for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and — honorable mentions: Kathy Nye, Carol Rutledge, Suzanne Roganchi and Barbara Canace for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Jeffrey Meek and Lyric Theatre for Mount Olive High School’s “Big Fish”; and Donna Dolby for Northern Valley Reg. High School at Old Tappan’s “How to Succeed in Business.”
  • Outstanding Hair & Make-up Achievement — final nominations: Stephanie Cooperman and Julie Edwards for Chatham High School’s “Shrek”; Celine Lockman, Fiona Kniaz, Alex Salvitti, Angela Colo and Gina Freshcoln for Clearview Regional High School’s “The Addams Family”; Kim Shriver, Suzanne Roghanchi and Skye Tyson for Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Merielle Lupfer for Pascack Valley High School’s “Urinetown”; Hope Ammidon and Matthew Kuenne for Princeton Day School’s “The Boyfriend”; Rebecca Arnold for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; and Allie Safonov for Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods”; and — honorable mentions: Julia Papas, Perri Easley and Adelyn Berrocal for Morristown-Beard School’s “Pippin”; Meghan Reeves for Perth Amboy High School’s “The Addams Family”; and unlisted persons for Union High School’s “Mary Poppins.”

There are 20 finalists for the Student Achievement Awards and 10 recipients will be announced. The 20 finalists are stage manager Kayla Williams, hair and makeup designer Makiyah Baptiste, and costume designer Darnisha Thomas, all for Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts’ “The Wiz”; scenic painter Adela Llagami and assistant set designer John Hartmann, both for David Brearley High School’s “Aida”; stage manager Gabrielle Cascio for Delaware Valley Reg. High School’s “Into the Woods”; student director and choreographer Kaitlyn Esposito and stage manager Emma Nafz, both for Morris County School of Technology’s “Once on this Island”; graphic designers Alexandra Fielding and Julia Halasz for Morristown High School’s “Once Upon a Mattress”; stage managers Taylor Jaskula, Grace Hromin, Nicolette Larson and Liza Leever for Morristown-Beard High School’s “Pippin”; student director Dominic Hendrickson and student choreographer Kara Byrnes, both for Mount Olive High School’s “Big Fish”; lighting designer Ryan Dent for River Dell Senior High School’s “Les Miserables: School Edition”; props mistress Sydney Giusto, student direction Katherine Recio and the costume crew, all for Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins”; graphic designer Val Pellington for West Milford Township High School’s “Young Frankenstein”; and stage manager Devyn Tibbals, costume designer Madeline Kevelson and assistant technical director Sarah Morton for Westfield High School’s “Into the Woods.”

Final nominations for the Educational Impact Award are Butler High School’s “Willy Wonka”; Columbia High School’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; Mount Olive High School’s “Big Fish”; Passaic County Technical Institute’s “Man of La Mancha”; Perth Amboy High School’s “The Addams Family”; Princeton Day School’s “The Boyfriend”; Ridge High School’s “The Addams Family”; St. Joseph Regional High School’s “Urinetown”; Summit High School’s “Mary Poppins” and the Pingry School’s “Cabaret.”

Final nominations for the Rising Star “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion and Access Award are Bernards High School’s “Guys and Dolls”; Moorestown High School’s “Hello, Dolly!”; Morristown High School’s “Once Upon a Mattress”; and the Pingry School’s “Cabaret.”

COMMENTS