[Skip to Content]

Sutton Foster Awards

The Sutton Foster Awards are a celebration of high school musical theatre across the State of Michigan. A program of Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Sutton Foster Awards is open to all high schools in the state, regardless of location, budget, or school size. 

The year-long program consists of four main components:

1. Learning Opportunities with Theatre Professionals
Workshops offered throughout the year help students grow in their theatre craft. Whether students are performers, technicians or on the creative team, these skill-building workshops are designed to offer any/all participants of the school musical production an opportunity to learn. Many workshops will be led by visiting Broadway professionals.

2. Professional Review 
All participating musicals receive a professional review. A panel of adjudicators, comprised of performing arts educators and professionals, attend each musical and provides feedback on everything from individual performances to technical elements. The scores and review are based on each school’s own merit and is not a competition between schools. Teachers and students use the feedback to learn for future productions.

3. Workshop and Audition Weekends 
All nominees will participate in a Sutton Foster Awards Workshop and Audition Weekend. Students will receive individual vocal coaching with professional voice teachers, learn music and choreography for a production number to be performed during the showcase, and audition for a panel of judges. All of these experiences are meant to help the students grow as performers and prepare them for a career in musical theatre. 

4. Awards Showcase
The year culminates in a professionally produced Sutton Foster Awards Showcase. In addition to celebrating the schools, the two nominees for the National High School Musical Theater Awards will be revealed. The 2024 Showcase will be held at Wharton Center in East Lansing.

How it works

To be considered for the Sutton Foster Awards, schools must nominate their fall and/or spring musical theatre production. 

There is a $225 fee per nominated musical production. If the fee is a barrier to participation, please contact Ben English at Ben.English@whartoncenter.com.

Wharton Center will send a team of adjudicators to attend a performance of your musical. Adjudicators will nominate two or more students for “Outstanding Performer in a Leading Role” from each qualifying production, who will then be invited to participate in one of two SFA workshop and Audition weekends as well as the Sutton Foster Awards Showcase. Additionally, adjudicator reviews and tabulations determine honors in technical and creative achievement.
Each school will receive a professional assessment of their show, meant to support the teacher, school, and students in growing their production values and recognizing excellence. 

This year’s Sutton Foster Awards Showcase is a public performance in June 2024, held at Wharton Center, where judges will determine Michigan’s two Outstanding Performers in a Leading Role. The winners fly to New York to compete for the National High School Musical Theatre Award. 

The Sutton Foster Award Showcase finalists will earn a $1,000 cash prize. 


Saturday June 1, 2024, 6:30pm at Wharton Center


2023 Participating Schools Coming Soon

Registration and Guidelines

Sponsored by Piper & Gold Public Relations with additional support from Nancy Passanante.

Questions? Contact Ben English at ben.english@whartoncenter.com or (517) 884-3171.


Jillian Armstrong from Milford High School and Mark Bonney from Detroit School of Arts were named Outstanding Performers in a Leading Role at the 11th annual Sutton Foster Awards.

More Info

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Sutton Foster Awards

Greyson Taylor, from Interlochen Center For The Arts and Ashely Woytal, from Portage Northern High School, competed in and won the 10th annual Sutton Foster Awards at Wharton Center on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

More Info

The 2017 Sutton Foster Award Winner, Antonio Cipriano, to star in the original Broadway cast of JAGGED LITTLE PILL

This new musical inspired by the Grammy-winning album by Alanis Morissette is set to start performances on November 3, 2019, at the Broadhurst Theatre…

More Info