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Paper Mill Playhouse announces Rising Star Awards winners

actor062309_optThe Paper Mill Playhouse recently hosted The Rising Star Awards, which are modeled after the Tony Awards and recognizes the efforts of 100 New Jersey high school productions.

Since their inception in 1996, the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater has ignited the careers of many notable performers, all of whom attended high school in New Jersey. Among early nominees and winners are Tony Award winner Laura Benanti who starred on Broadway opposite Patti LuPone in Gypsy, and Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway.

Among the nominated high schools, Rahway High School led the way with four Rising Star Awards including the award for Outstanding Overall Production. Bergen County Academies and Summit High School each won two Rising Star Awards. Bayonne High School, Bloomfield High School, Butler High School, Cranford High School, Don Bosco Preparatory High School, Fair Lawn High School, Hillsborough High School, Howell High School, Shore Regional High School, St. Joseph Regional High School and The Pingry School each won one Rising Star Award.

Paper Mill awards over $130,000 in scholarships the Rising Star Awards.

Paper Mill Director of Education, Lisa Cooney says, "What's happening in high schools musical productions here in New Jersey and around the country is remarkable. Programs like the Rising Star Awards have raised the bar and create opportunities for student performers and theater technicians to be recognized for their achievements, while giving them access to thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Many of Paper Mill's Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and we consistently hear from top tier colleges and casting directors that the Paper Mill Rising Star Award is a significant accolade for an aspiring theater artist."

2009 Rising Star Award Recipients

Outstanding Graphic Design

Paul Gaschler

Union High School

42nd STREET

Outstanding Lobby Display

Carol Hassert and Sherri Williamson

Summit High School

THE MUSIC MAN

Outstanding Hair and Make-up Achievement

Sylvia C. Abdelsalam

Butler High School

CATS

Outstanding Costuming Achievement

Rahway High School

THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

Outstanding Lighting Achievement

Matthew Gordon

Bergen County Academies

INTO THE WOODS

Outstanding Scenic Achievement

Jane Asch

The Pingry School

LES MISERABLES

Outstanding Choreography

Chelsea Cicci

Bloomfield High School

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

Outstanding Musical Direction

Ed Ginter

Don Bosco Preparatory High School

LES MISERABLES

Outstanding Direction

Alison Dooley

Rahway High School

THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

Outstanding Orchestra

Hillsborough High School

WEST SIDE STORY

Outstanding Chorus

Rahway High School

THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

Outstanding Ensemble Group

"The Barbershop Quartet"

Summit High School

THE MUSIC MAN

Outstanding Ensemble Member

Kelly Cosentino as "Donna"

Shore Regional High School

OVER HERE!

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role

Jason Cohen as "Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework"

Howell High School

ON THE TOWN

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Matthew Corbin as "Billy Lawlor"

Union High School

42nd STREET

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Erica Morreale as "Bonnie"

Cranford High School

ANYTHING GOES

Outstanding Leading Actor

Anthony Bruno as "The Baker"

Bergen County Academies

INTO THE WOODS

Outstanding Leading Actress

Julia Knitel as "Millie Dillmount"

Fair Lawn High School

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Educational Impact Award (TIE)

St. Joseph Regional High School

- and -

Bayonne High School

Outstanding Overall Production

Rahway High School

THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

*** *** ***

2009 Student Achievement Award Recipients

Musical Director

Natasha Gonzalez

Academy of the Holy Angels

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Choreographer

Cassie Faulborn and Jessica O'Hagan

Academy of the Holy Angels

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Props Mistress

Jessica Diamond

Bergen County Academies

INTO THE WOODS

Website Designer/Historian

Michael Ciszewski

Bergen County Academies

INTO THE WOODS

Stage Technical Leader

Sebastian Moon and Rachel Jacquin

Cranford High School

ANYTHING GOES

Set Designer

Ashley Petix

Robbinsville High School

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

Head Electrician

Michael Velez

Summit High School

THE MUSIC MAN

Costume Designer

Jeanette Pidi

Dumont High School

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM

— ANDY LAGOMARSINO, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

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