2021 RISING STAR AWARD NOMINEES AND WINNERS
OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS NOMINEES
Alex Belle, Collier HS, “My New Philosophy” from YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN
Emma Casertano, Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools-Grunin Performing Arts Academy, “The Music and the Mirror” from A CHORUS LINE
Leonor Fontanez, Delaware Valley Regional HS, “Cleaning Women” from WORKING
Halle Lipton, St. Peter’s Preparatory School, “Lying There” from EDGES: A SONG CYCLE
Kyra Longenecker, Madison HS, “I Want to Go to Hollywood” from GRAND HOTEL
Khadijah Sankoh, Union HS, “Waiting for Life” from ONCE ON THIS ISLAND
Yemie Woo, Pascack Hills HS, “Fabulous Baby” from SISTER ACT – WINNER
OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR NOMINEES
Will DeLargy, Morristown HS, “All I Care About is Love” from CHICAGO
Collin Flanagan, Madison HS, The Lady Must be Mad” from ILYRIA
Michael Bryant Kessie, Delaware Valley Regional HS, “Joe” from WORKING – WINNER
Nicholas Matos, St. Peter’s Preparatory School, “Monticello” from EDGES: A SONG CYCLE
Miguel Ramirez, Lawrence HS, “Dulcinea” from MAN OF LA MANCHA
Max Rodriguez, Ridge HS, “Gus: The Theatre Cat” from CATS
Jonah Ruderman, Livingston HS, “Who I’d Be” from SHREK: THE MUSICAL
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A SMALL ENSEMBLE NOMINEES
County Prep HS, ”The Most Amazing Thing” from LITTLE WOMEN, featuring Ivellisses Segovia, Mathew Segovia, Kayla Velazquez
Delaware Valley Regional HS, Brother Trucker” from WORKING, featuring Michael Bryant Kessie, Dakota Krouse, Maddy Clyde, Mark Westling, Gabi Pfefferte, Tori Kelly
Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools-Grunin Performing Arts Academy, ”Sing” from A CHORUS LINE, featuring William Einbinder, Gabriella DeBenedict
Pinelands Regional HS, ”Secrets” from THE ADDAMS FAMILY, featuring Nadia Vito, Lily Targett
Ridge HS, “Macavity” from CATS, featuring Elisabeth Schmitt, Eileen Brady, Eve Armstrong, Samantha Rascio, Morgan Connell, Gabriella Hairston, Jordan Perla – WINNER
Summit HS, ”King of New York” from NEWSIES, featuring Sydney Veloso, Hope Pierotti, Avery Johnson, Anna Sullivan, Theo Errig, Ethan Engmann
Union HS, ”Forever Yours” from ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, featuring Khadijah Sankoh, Makayla Michel
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A LARGE ENSEMBLE NOMINEES
Columbia HS, “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from HAIRSPRAY
Delaware Valley Regional HS, All the Livelong Day” from WORKING
Madison HS, ”On My Way” from VIOLET
Ridge HS, “The Jellicle Ball” from CATS
St. Peter’s Preparatory School, “Become” from EDGES: A SONG CYCLE
Summit HS, “Seize the Day” from NEWSIES – WINNER
Union HS, “Mama Will Provide” from ONCE ON THIS ISLAND
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD NOMINEES
Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Dominic Roberts, Dance Captain – WINNER
Bridgewater-Raritan HS, Liz Driscoll, Dance Captain
Bridgewater Raritan HS, Sophia Pedroso, Stage Manager – WINNER
Delaware Valley Regional HS, Simon Kinderman, Designer: Cinematography/Production/Pit – WINNER
Immaculate Heart Academy, Grace Capeless, Assistant Director/Film Editor – WINNER
José Martí STEM Academy, Felix Tavarez, Assistant Choreographer
José Martí STEM Academy, Clarisse Moreno, Kathy Bernal, Oliver Villalta, Writing Team – WINNER
Morristown HS Lorelei Eck, Student Director
Mount Saint Dominic Academy, Hema Davalla & Sophia Garske, Production Stage Managers
Mount Saint Dominic Academy, Kiera Carbone, Ava Ciauro, Lynn Jean-Baptiste, Sound Board Operators
Pascack Hills HS, Valentina Cannao, Scenic Designer & Assistant Director
Piscataway HS, Melly Merida, Scenic Illustrations – WINNER
Randolph HS, Kathleen Brennan, Christine Hamilton, Jilliane Najera, Digital Designers
Ridge HS, Morgan Beatty, Student, Director – WINNER
Summit HS, Emma MacPherson, Costume Crew Head – WINNER
Toms River HS North, Archie Bird, Tech Crew – WINNER
Voorhees HS, Owen Tabor, Choreographer/Dance Captain
Westfield HS, Ben Zakharenko, Sound Designer – WINNER
Westfield HS, Josh Saxon, Scenic Designer / Asst. Technical Director
OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR AWARD NOMINEES
Elizabeth Volpe, Atlantic County Institute of Technology
Pete Gambino, Cherry Hill HS East
Michael Penna, Collier HS
John Giresi, Fair Lawn HS – WINNER
Jim DeVivo, Holmdel HS
Blake Spence, Madison HS
Cindy Dwyer, Mater Dei Prep – WINNER
Jodi Bosch, Mount Olive HS
Jensyn Modero, Mount Saint Dominic Academy
Bart DiFrancia, Pinelands Regional HS
Anne Poyner, Summit HS – WINNER
Steven Collins, Union County Academy for Performing Arts
Nancy Reynolds, Voorhees HS
THEATER FOR EVERYONE INCLUSION AND ACCESS AWARD NOMINEES
Madison HS – WINNER
Modeled after Broadway’s Tony Awards, the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards was created in 1996 to encourage and reward exceptional accomplishments in the production of New Jersey high school musicals. The Rising Star Awards is a statewide high school recognition program and has been replicated in several regions nationwide with Paper Mill Playhouse’s assistance.
Recognition will be made in the following categories Outstanding Solo Performance by an Actor, Outstanding Solo Performance by an Actress, Outstanding Performance by a Small Ensemble, Outstanding Performance by a Large Ensemble.
In addition to performance awards, special awards will also be given in the categories of Student Achievement, Inclusion & Access in the Arts, and Outstanding Educator. The Student Achievement Award recognizes individual student or group contributions to the greater production effort. The Rising Star “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion & Access Award 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. The Outstanding Educator Award recognizes those educators who bring the positive impact of theatre into their students’ curriculum and lives.
The Rising Star Awards also provide a variety of Scholarship Opportunities for participating high school seniors. Paper Mill Playhouse offers four $1,000 cash awards to outstanding individual students participating in entered Rising Star Award productions, and who plan to continue studying theatre or technical theatre in college. A fifth cash scholarship of $1,000 is awarded in memoriam of Rising Star Nominee Douglas Michael Krueger.
Lastly, students receiving final nominations in the Solo Performance categories automatically receive a full scholarship to Paper Mill Playhouse’s competitive Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, a professional training program composed of advanced classes in singing, acting and dance.
When is the deadline to register for the 2021 Rising Star Awards?
Registration forms are due by 5:00 pm on Friday, January 15, 2021. However, if we reach 100 registered schools prior to that date, we may close the registration portal.
When must our show be presented in order to enter the Rising Star Awards?
Since it is not required to produce a formal production this season, there is not a specific production window. As long as a school submits the required materials for consideration by April 30th, they may be considered for nomination.
How many schools are accepted into the program?
We accept a maximum of 100 schools.
Is there a registration fee?
Yes, there is a $25 registration fee which will be invoiced once the school’s registration is confirmed. For information on a fee waiver, please email Mariah Black at email@example.com.
How will we know if our registration was received?
Paper Mill Playhouse will email a confirmation if your school’s application was accepted within 48 hours of submission.
What if we don’t receive a confirmation email?
Please email Mariah Black at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Paper Mill Playhouse accept a school purchase order or voucher for the application fee?
Yes, provided the forms arrive at Paper Mill Playhouse within ten business days of your confirmation email.
What categories will be adjudicated?
Outstanding Solo Performance by an Actress
Outstanding Solo Performance by an Actor
Outstanding Performance by a Small Ensemble (2-6)
Outstanding Performance by a Large Ensemble (7+)
Student Achievement Award(s) – recognizes student members of your production team who have given their time and talent in a backstage or non-acting capacity
Inclusion and Access Award – recognizes excellence in the promotion and practice of creative inclusion of students and adults with disabilities as performers, designers, musicians and production staff.
Outstanding Educator(s) – recognizes those educators to bring the positive impact of theatre into their students’ curriculum and lives. Must be submitted separately from category submissions and should come from a colleague or supervisor.
How will submissions be adjudicated?
We’re going digital! Each category will require schools to submit a video that meets certain criteria. While live adjudication is not part of this year’s program, submissions will still be seen and evaluated by several members of Paper Mill Playhouse’s professional staff.
What are the criteria for each category?
Please refer to the Submission Guidelines document.
How do schools submit their videos?
Via a Google Form that will be made available to participating schools once the registration window is closed. More information is available in the Submission Guidelines document.
How does a school receive a final nomination in consideration for an award?
All submissions will be reviewed by members of the Paper Mill Nomination Committee and evaluated using our Standards of Excellence Rubric and Response Form. A sample of these forms will be advanced to schools following registration. The Nomination Committee will utilize these scores and comments to discuss and determine nominees.
When will we know if we’ve been nominated?
A list of Final Nominations is posted on the Paper Mill Playhouse website, www.papermill.org, on Monday, May 14, 2021.
Will we still receive feedback?
Yes! Due to the nature of this year’s program, it will not be as extensive as 4 full performance response forms – as those were created with full productions in mind. Schools will receive a single document with scores and comments for each individual submission.
Are scholarships being awarded this year?
Yes! Paper Mill Playhouse offers four $1,000 cash awards to outstanding individual students participating in entered Rising Star Award productions, and who plan to continue studying theatre or technical theatre in college. A fifth cash scholarship of $1,000 is awarded in memoriam of Rising Star Nominee Douglas Michael Krueger.
Additionally, students receiving final nominations in the Solo Performance categories automatically receive a full 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 on the stage at Paper Mill Playhouse in the annual “New Voices Concert.”
Rising Star Awards – Presented by the Investors Foundation is generously supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie 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 Theater for Everyone Inclusion and Access Award is supported by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.
Paper Mill Playhouse Education & Outreach programs are generously supported by The Goren Family & Harmon Helper.