Area high school productions receive Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards

MILLBURN, NJ — 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 Theater 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, and many more. The 2022 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards ceremony, presented by the Investors Foundation, took place at Paper Mill Playhouse on Monday, June 6. 

“We are very excited to celebrate excellence in high school musical theater with the students of New Jersey,” said Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse’s producing artistic director. “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.” 

“What’s happening in high school musical productions here in New Jersey and around the country is remarkable,” Paper Mill director of education Lisa Cooney said. “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.”

In Essex County, Livingston High School student Jonah Ruderman won Outstanding Solo Performance for performing “If I Were a Rich Man.” Columbia High School won Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging for its performance of “Newsies,” as well as Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design.