Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Rising Star Honors

Will host a virtual celebration honoring the passion and talent of New Jersey high school students!

Paper Mill Playhouse has announced the cancelation of the 2020 Rising Star Awards. Paper Mill will instead host a virtual celebration honoring the passion and talent of New Jersey high school students, many of whom were unable to perform their high school musicals due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.

In response to the coronavirus national emergency and statewide school, business and institution closures, dozens of New Jersey high schools participating in the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards were forced to cancel their spring musical. Of the 94 schools on the roster, over two-thirds canceled their shows. In the face of this, the theater has canceled the awards program and ceremony which would have been the milestone 25th annual gathering.

The Rising Star Awards will not go on, but to acknowledge the passion that New Jersey students have for musical theater, Paper Mill will present a virtual celebration of the 2020 participating schools with Rising Star Honors presented by the Investors Foundation, a montage of school video submissions of the shows that happened, or didn’t happen. Schools will share highlights of their performances, rehearsals or create new performances by company members.

paper mill playhouse rising star awards high school theatre theater competition musical
Rising Star Honors presented by the Investors Foundation will premiere on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 7PM on Paper Mill Playhouse’s Facebook page.

Joining us is our special host, Rising Star winner, Broadway performer and Olivier nominee, Jared Gertner, along with Rising Star alumni from across the nation!   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.  Many Paper Mill Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have won esteemed industry awards while working in theater and film. Along with Mr. Gertner, early Paper Mill Rising Star nominees and winners include Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin, Mrs. Doubtfire), and Shanice Williams, star of NBC’s The Wiz Live! Click here for a full list of notable alumni.

“We want the students of New Jersey to know our hearts are with them and we understand and acknowledge the deep disappointment they feel, especially the seniors. In the theater arts, the cast and crew of the musical become a family, and the time they spend together in rehearsals creates a safe harbor for many kids, so we understand how they may feel incomplete right now. We want them to know we are thinking of them and love their passion. Each year for the past 25 years, the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards have raised the bar and created opportunities for student performers, musicians, and theater technicians to be recognized for their achievements. We can’t wait to return next year.”
–Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director

“Even though the current pandemic has impacted the Rising Star Awards program, it has not dampened students’ interest and enthusiasm for musical theater. These student performers and theater technicians have worked so hard and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to recognize their talent in a unique way,” said Investors Bank Chairman and CEO Kevin Cummings. “Investors Bank is proud to be a part of this program that acknowledges the students and the high school theater programs in which they participate.”

“The Rising Star Honors presentation is a placeholder for the school community while theater operation is on hiatus. During this difficult moment, we want to give the students an outlet to shine. The passion that the students and educators here in New Jersey have is remarkable.”
–Paper Mill Playhouse Director of Education Lisa Cooney
Rising Star Awards–Presented by the Investors Foundation is generously supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.
Paper Mill Playhouse Education & Outreach are generously sponsored by The Goren Family & the Harmony Helper App.
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.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is one of the country’s leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.