EAST LANSING — To honor Tony Award winning actress and Michigan native Sutton Foster's contribution to American musical theater, the annual Ovation Awards will now be known as The Sutton Foster Ovation Awards – Michigan High School Musical Theater Awards.
The Sutton Foster Ovation Awards are a celebration of outstanding achievement in musical theater performance by high school students and recognize individual artistry in vocal, dance and acting performance. For the last four years, the best of Michigan's high school theater students have competed in the Ovation Awards for the scholarships and awards on Wharton Center's Cobb Great Hall. One top male and one top female performer from the competition are chosen to represent the state of Michigan at the National High School Musical theater Awards (The "Jimmy" Awards) competition held in New York City.
The Ovation Awards, presented by Broadway in Detroit, Broadway Grand Rapids and Wharton Center for Performing Arts, caught the attention of Foster, one of the most popular Broadway performers of all time and native of Troy, Michigan.
"Musical theater has had such a significant impact on my life!" she says. "I am honored to have my name associated with the scholarship program, and I am thrilled to know that it will help inspire and support future generations of student thespians from my home state."
Wharton Center's Executive Director, Mike Brand, says naming the awards after Foster will encourage more young people to get involved in theater. "This is a huge win for young performers across the state. Sutton Foster's success on the stage and her dedication to arts education inspires kids and adults alike. Our goal is to have every high school that presents musical theater in Michigan participate in this annual awards program, and we are honored to be able to distribute these scholarships to young artists. Sutton's involvement gives the Ovation Awards huge credibility!"
Broadway in Detroit Executive Director Al Lichtenstein agrees: "Sutton Foster is one of the biggest Broadway stars today. Her connection to the awards will only increase the engagement of high schools across the state. This is a big win for the state of Michigan."
Mike Lloyd, executive director of Broadway Grand Rapids notes, "We are overjoyed that stage and screen actress Sutton Foster is lending her name to the Ovation Awards. This places another level of prestige upon the competition. It will only encourage more students to learn about performing arts to participate in their musical theater programs."
Originally from Troy, Michigan, Sutton Foster is an award-winning actress, singer and dancer who has performed in 11 Broadway shows – most recently the revival of "Violet" and originated roles in the Broadway productions of "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Little Women," "Young Frankenstein," "Shrek The Musical," and her Tony Award-winning performances in "Anything Goes" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." She was first seen on television on "Star Search" at age 15 and currently stars in TVLand's critically acclaimed series "Younger." Previously, Sutton appeared in ABC Family's "Bunheads," "Psych," "Johnny and the Sprites," "Flight of the Conchords," "Sesame Street," "Law and Order SVU," and "Royal Pains." In 2011 she received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Ball State University where she also is on faculty as a teacher and advisor to the Department of Theater and Dance.
The performance and presentation will take place June 11-12 on Wharton Center's Cobb Great Hall Stage. The awards weekend includes intensive education, rehearsal and coaching for all nominees, culminating in a performance of Broadway numbers and an awards ceremony in front of a live audience. The winners of the competition are considered the top male and female musical theater performers in Michigan for that given year. Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize, a scholarship to Wharton Center's Take It From The Top Summer Broadway Intensive, and an all expense paid six-day trip to New York City to represent the state of Michigan in the National High School Musical Theater Awards.
To qualify for participation for the Sutton Foster Ovation Awards, schools must submit the name of the student performer who plays the leading male and/or female role in an eligible high school musical presented during the 2015-2016 academic year. Rules, regulations, online application and additional resources are available at http://www.whartoncenter.com.
The nomination deadline is Monday, May 30. All nominees will be notified via email on or before June 5 of their acceptance into the Ovation Awards scholarship competition.