Event Calendar

Ovation Awards

The MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity at Wharton Center is pleased to announce that high schools in the state of Michigan are invited to participate in the 4th annual Ovation Awards, the Michigan Chapter of the National High School Musical Theater Awards, an annual national celebration of outstanding achievement in musical theatre performance by high school students.

To be considered for the program, schools/teachers need to submit the name of the student performer who plays the Leading Male and/or Female character in the school musical resented during the 2014-15 academic year. 

Nominations and application materials should be submitted on or before April 27, 2015. With advance notice, exceptions will be made if your musical is performing AFTER that date. Please note: we cannot accept applications submitted after Wednesday, May 6, 2015.

A panel of Broadway professionals will review the applications and select 50 students (25 Actors and 25 Actresses) who will be invited to take part in a two-day long program on Saturday and Sunday, May 16 & 17, 2015 with an performance and awards presentation scheduled for Sunday May 17, 2015 on the Cobb Great Hall stage at Wharton Center. Following a series of ensemble and solo performances, the judges will give two talented students The Ovation Award for the Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress. The Ovation Award winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a scholarship to Wharton Center’s Take It From The Top Summer Broadway Intensive. In addition, these students will receive an all-expense paid 6-day performance enrichment program held in New York City and represent this area in the National High School Musical Theater Awards at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway, in June of 2014.

The Ovation Awards is presented by Wharton Center for Performing Arts in partnership with Broadway Grand Rapids and Broadway In Detroit, with additional support from Nancy Passanante.

For more information on The National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as The Jimmy Awards, visit www.NHSMTA.org.

All nominees will be notified via email on or before May 4, 2015 of their acceptance into the Ovation Awards if all materials have been received.


Wharton Center presents the Ovation Awards to enable Michigan schools to participate in The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA,www.nhsmta.org), a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theatre.

There is no fee to participate, the application fee has been waived for the 2014-15 season.


  • Best Performance by an Actor
  • Best Performance by an Actress


Nominees must be enrolled in grades 9-12 in a Michigan public or private high school and have performed in a high school affiliated musical theater production during the 2014-2015 academic year.

To compete in the Best Performance by an Actor or Best Performance by an Actress category, a nominee must have played the lead role in a full-length high school musical theater production. A supporting role does not qualify. A comprehensive list of eligible roles can be found at www.nhsmta.com.


  • The application must be completed in full and received no later than Monday, April 27, 2015. With advance notice, applications for musicals performed after that date will be considered until May 6, 2015. Mail to: Atten: Institute for Arts & Creativity, Wharton Center for Performing Arts, East Lansing, MI 48824
  • Schools may nominate one student for Best Performance by an Actor and/or one student for Best Performance by an Actress for the role performed in the high school production.
  • Only one lead male and one lead female submission will be accepted per nominating school.


  1. Five minute highlight video of each nominee's performance they are being nominated for. (Must be submitted on two separate DVD's - hard copy, no electronic submissions will be accepted.) In the event the production has not yet occurred by the application deadline of May 6, 2015 comparable video and photos may accompany the application of a similar performance having occurred in the last 12 months.
  2. A recent headshot (300 dpi or higher) submitted electronically
  3. A resume submitted electronically - (see suggested sample at www.whartoncenter.com/ovationawards.aspx) - Must follow that format.
  4. A letter of recommendation from the director/musical director of the high school production that you are being nominated for.
  5. An essay (one page double spaced, describing his/her experience while participating in his/her high school musical for which they are nominated.)
  6. Wharton Center Photo Release Form signed and returned (Available at www.whartoncenter.com/education/ovationawards.aspx)
  7. Participating students music submission (Actual sheet music must be submitted, either by fax: 517.353.5329 or by email scan: kris.ouellette@whartoncenter.com. You must write your name on each page.)
  8. One full song from the show they are nominated for with a 32-bar cut (This is the song they will sing for their vocal audition for the judges)
  • One musical theatre song of their choice that best shows off their range and ability (applicant must bring a CD of accompaniment of this musical theatre song of choice for vocal and acting coaching.) This is the song the nominee will sing if they become finalist in the awards program.

Candidates will be evaluated on Saturday, May 16, 2015 and Sunday, May 17, 2015 by a panel of qualified adjudicators and judges selected by Wharton Center. The judges' decision is final.

Judging Guidelines:

The nominees will be evaluated through an audition process that includes the live performance of a solo (one up-tempo or one ballad, if applicable) from the lead role he/she played in the musical for which they have been nominated. No substitutions will be considered eligible.

Participation in the National High School Musical Theater Awards/Jimmy Awards:

If selected as an Ovation Award winner, the student must be available and willing to participate in the National High School Musical Theater Awards held in New York City beginning June 22–30, 2015. (tentative date range)

The Ovation Awards and The National High School Musical Theatre Awards include one-on-one coaching, auditions and rehearsal for the Awards presentation. Finalists are selected by a panel of judges made up of Broadway & Industry professionals.

Sponsored by Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Wharton Center for Performing Arts
  • Michigan State University
  • 750 E. Shaw LN
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • PHONE: (517) 353-1982