2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards

The 2017 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Presented by the Investors Foundation ceremony took place at Paper Mill Playhouse on Tuesday, June 6. The event featured presenters from Broadway and beyond. The ceremony was broadcast live on television and online through Paper Mill Playhouse video partner, Hometowne Television, of Summit, New Jersey.

Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees Township took home the top prize of Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical for their production of Les Misérables: School Edition, along with two other trophies. Union High School and Gloucester County Institute of Technology each took home three trophies at this year’s awards.

Other awards presented included:

  • Five $1,000 cash scholarships to outstanding individual students who plan to continue studying theater performance or technical theater in college.
  • A prize of $500 to Fair Lawn High School who received the 2017 Educational Impact Award. This award acknowledges a school that successfully connects the musical to the district’s curriculum, using the production as a teaching tool for the greater student body and local community.
  • The Rising Star “Theatre for Everyone” Inclusion and Access Award was presented to Morristown High School.  This cash award of $1,000 is provided in a partnership with The Cultural Access Network of New Jersey, a project of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. It 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 seeks to recognize and reward a school that takes steps to ensure their performances are accessible to audiences with disabilities.
  • Students receiving final nominations in the lead and supporting acting categories receive a scholarship to Paper Mill Playhouse’s competitive Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory.  This professional training program, along with advanced classes in singing, acting and dance, offers the nominees an opportunity to perform onstage at Paper Mill Playhouse in the season finale concert, “New Voices of 2017: Everyone Loves an Underdog!” on July 28 and July 29.

For a complete list of recipients, consult the Paper Mill Playhouse website at their Rising Star page: http://papermill.org/education/rising-star-awards/award-recipients.html

Previous Nominees and Recipients

A number of past Rising Star nominees and recipients recently appeared on Broadway. The list includes: She Loves Me (Laura Benanti), Noises Off (Rob McClure), and  American Psycho (Morgan Weed).   Also, Aladdin (Josh Dela Cruz, Jonathan Schwartz, Kathryn Allison), Les Misérables (Nikki M. James), Disney’s The Lion King (Jelani Remy), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Julia Knitel), Jersey Boys (Russell Fisher), and The Phantom of the Opera (Julia Udine).

The list continues with London’s West End production of The Book of Mormon (Jared Gertner); the Public Theater’s Grounded (Anne Hathaway). and Shanice Williams, star of NBC’s The Wiz Live.

The Score Podcasts Will Share the Sounds of Workshop Concerts

Photo shows the cast and band of ‘The Outlaws’ in concert which was presented at Le Poisson Rouge on Oct. 24, 2016. A recording of the performance will be available via podcast in 2017. Photo by K. Nowosad

Bringing a new musical to Broadway can be a long and expensive process. One of the steps in this process might be presenting a workshop or concert where the show is presented to a limited audience where actors have script in hand as they deliver the lines and songs. The limited audience usually is made up of invited people who might have some interest or stake in the show. At times, if the event has extra seats, they might offer a few to the public but the average person rarely has a chance to attend these events. There is a new group in town looking to share some of these workshops that take place. The group is called The Score or The Score Podcast.

Three people whose jobs are involved with the theater make up The Score team: Michael Kimmel, a theater writer, John DeLore, a recording artist, and Allison Bressi, a freelance producer. During a recent visit to one of the concerts put on by The Score, I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Kimmel. He explained that The Score is looking to provide opportunities for people who are not able to attend the workshops for musical theater show hopefuls that are put on in New York City. They bring shows they are passionate about into a live concert format, record them during the concert, then develop them into podcasts. This will provide a chance to hear the actual concert of the presentation that takes place via podcast which will become available for download. The plan is to have podcasts, or episodes, available for download either late winter or spring 2017.  The Score plans on using some of the more traditional podcast download locations and plans are in the works to launch a Score website as well. Downloads will be free for listeners.

‘Outlaws’ in concert with Constantine Maroulis (l) as Jesse James and Jeremy Morse (r) as Frank James. Photo by Karen Nowosad

So far, five musicals have been presented in concert and recorded at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street in New York City.  The one I attended was a show titled Outlaws. The show was billed as: “a hard-boiled, historical fiction featuring a robust Americana score. Frustrated with Washington and hard-up for cash, Jesse James and his brother Frank take matters into their own hands robbing banks, courting the press, and killing anyone who gets in their way. Outlaws is the story of a bitterly divided America and the demagogues who try to save it. ”  Outlaws has music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen and book by James Presson.  The concert that evening was this new musical’s first full, public presentation in New York after past development at Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals, the ASCAP Workshop and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship.

The presentation of Outlaws was The Score’s largest undertaking so far.  It featured a chorus of 17 people and a 9 piece orchestra. Playing major roles were Broadway performers including Constantine Maroulis, Alison Fraser, Jeremy Morse, Michael McCorry Rose, Kacie Sheik, Eric William Morris, Andy Taylor, Will Carlyon, and Sean Patrick Monahan. The concert was produced by Jenna Grossano and featured musical direction by Luke McGinnis and was given two times that evening. One at 7:00 and the next at 9:30. Tickets were available for purchase to the public to attend while the taping was taking place. If the size of the crowd was any indication of the interest people have in hearing new musicals, then The Score is on the right track. Both performances were filled with enthusiastic audiences who were treated to a unique sound that included blue grass and rock given by outstanding performers and musicians.

Mr. Kimmel said that being in musical theater, one has to be creative. It is his hope that The Score is developing a new model that needs addressing. He also mentioned that the show performed that night was all done in a week’s time. As a viewer, I found it to be a very entertaining evening and I look forward to being able to listen to it again, when the podcast becomes available. Being able to bring concerts to a large number of people of new works is in itself good work. But it also will allow new artists an opportunity to be heard.

To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/thescorepodcast, or inquire at thescorepod@gmail.com.kj.





Amanda Green and Her Amazing Friends

Held at Birdland in NYC on Sept. 19, 2106, the show titled Amanda Green and Her Amazing Friends featured songwriter Amanda Green. Her amazing friends included four Broadway singers: Jarrod Spector (Beautiful, Jersey Boys), Julia Murney (Wicked, The Wild Party), Alysha Umphress (On The Town, On A Clear Day) And Constantine Maroulis (Rock Of Ages, Jekyll and Hyde).  And they were all amazing.

But also amazing was Amanda Green. Here is a short video from the song she sang to open the show. It comes from the show for which she received a Tony nomination, Hands on a Hard Body.

Amanda Green

The program had a nice variety of music written by Ms. Green and it gave the audience an opportunity to first hear some music from a new musical she is working on with composer Richard Thomas called An Americain Boy. In this clip, Jarrod Spector sings the role of Fred, an imposter, who is posing as a boy who has been missing since he was 16 years old.

Next, Julia Murney sang the role of the mother of the missing boy after she has met up with Fred.

There were several other selections from the upcoming show, but then, came some songs from Hands on a Hard Body. Here is a clip of Alysha Umphress doing one from the show.

Finally, Constantine Maroulis sang the ballad Laura from High Fidelity.

There were other songs performed and a few other clips are available on Let’s Go to the Theater YouTube Channel.

The show was well done by the performers and Amanda Green’s performance was superb. She can really put a song over very well to her audience. All in all, a very fine evening.