Recognizing that love of theatre begins early, Millburn, NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse held its third annual Rising Star Awards for excellence in musical theatre in area high schools, June 15. Seventy-eight schools from across the state were entered into 21 categories. Each show considered was attended by at least four judges.
Last year's big winner, Northern Valley Regional High School of Old Tappan took the most awards again -- five -- for its Phantom, this time tying with Union High School's Once Upon A Mattress.
John Davidson, currently in Paper Mill's Will Rogers Follies and on Broadway and on tour in State Fair appeared at the ceremony at the theatre, alongside actor Eddie Bracken.
Winning for Overall Production was Old Tappan's Northern Valley Regional HS for Phantom.
Other winners included John Housely (director, Phantom at Northern Valley); Matthew Scott (leading actor, Phantom); Diane Foster (leading actress, Union HS' Once Upon A Mattress); Tatianna Saracino (child actor, Gypsy, Toms River HS East); Lorinda Haver (choreography, Two Gentlemen of Vernoa, Westfield HS); and Bishop Ahr High School (chorus, for Singin' in the Rain). Tied for Outstanding Achievement by a Student were Charissa Chatton, choreographer of Dunellen HS' Anything Goes; Dean Chen & Yan Nuriyev, video graphic designers of Fair Lawn HS' How To Succeed; and Christopher Patterson, set and lighting designer for Perth Amboy HS' Pippin.
For a full list of winners and other information about the Rising Star Awards, call the Paper Mill Playhouse at (973) 379-3636.
-- By David Lefkowitz