Since their inception in 1996, The Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director) 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® nominee Anne Hathaway, Tony® award winner Laura Benanti, star of Broadway's CHAPLIN, Rob McClure and 2011 Tony® award winner Nikki M. James.
Paper Mill Playhouse's program is modeled after the Tony® Awards and serves the entire state of New Jersey with 100 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools. Paper Mill Playhouse conceived and created the awards in 1996 to provide schools the opportunity to showcase their musical arts programs on a state level. The musicals are adjudicated by Paper Mill Playhouse throughout the spring by a group of seventy evaluators with each school receiving four independent evaluations.
The 2013 Rising Star Awards gala ceremony at Paper Mill Playhouse is set for June 4, 2013 when the nominees perform and recipients are presented with a crystal award from Rising Star Award partner, Tiffany & Co. Any New Jersey school that produces a musical between January 17th and April 14th, 2013, is eligible to participate. Only the first one-hundred schools to apply will be entered into the program. Applications are available on the Paper Mill Playhouse's website-www.papermill.org. The deadline for submissions is January 9, 2013.
"What's happening in high school 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 theater technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarship money," commented Paper Mill Director of Education, Lisa Cooney. "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 theater artist."
In addition to honors in performance, design and production categories, the Rising Star Awards recognize other aspects of the production process. Student Achievement Awards (based on nominations made by teachers and evaluations by a select committee) and an Educational Impact Award (recognizing a school's effort to connect their musicals production to the district's curriculum) are presented each year. In addition, the Rising Star "Theater for Everyone" Inclusion & Access Award is presented to a school that recognizes 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 also seeks to recognize and reward a school that takes steps to ensure their performances are accessible to audiences with disabilities. This award is co-sponsored by VSA New Jersey and the Cultural Access Network, a program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Paper Mill Playhouse also awards over $50,000 in scholarships at the Rising Star Awards. Four $1,000 cash scholarships are awarded to outstanding individual students participating in entered Rising Star AwaRD Productions, who plan to continue studying theater in college. A fifth scholarship of $1,000 is sponsored annually by Scaramouche Costumes, LLC and is presented to students planning to continue their studies in technical theater. Students receiving final nominations in leading actor and leading actress categories receive a full scholarship to attend Paper Mill Playhouse's competitive Summer Musical Theater 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 July season finale concert, "New Voices of 2013: Swing Awakening!" Additionally, students receiving final nominations in supporting actor and supporting actress categories will receive a 50% scholarship to attend the program.