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Sutton Foster Awards 2021

For aspiring musical theater stars, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime

Each May, high school musical stars from across Michigan are professionally judged in their local productions for the opportunity to compete on the Wharton Center Cobb Great Hall stage. At stake? A chance to head to Broadway.

The best actor and best actress winner of the Sutton Foster Awards take their A-game to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards – also known as the Jimmy Awards.

Named for Broadway star and Tony winner Sutton Foster, these awards recognize individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performances for both a actor and actress lead in a high school musical theater production. It also honors the commitment of Michigan teachers and schools to excellence in performing arts education.

How it works

Nominations for the 2021 Sutton Foster Awards are now closed. This year, Wharton Center will celebrate the 2021 Sutton Foster Award nominees by showcasing them here and on our social media platforms beginning on May 23. The celebration will culminate on Thursday, May 27 with a Facebook announcement of this year's winners. 

To be considered to compete, schools must nominate their fall and/or spring qualifying musical theater productions.

There is a $100 fee per nominated musical production. We will accept the first 25 qualified applications. Once those slots are filled, the next 10 qualified applications will be asked if they would like to be put on the waiting list. Applications must be submitted at least three weeks prior to your production.

Wharton Center will send a team of expert adjudicators to attend a performance of your musical. Adjudicators will nominate two students for “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” from each qualifying production who will then be invited to participate in the Sutton Foster Awards. Additionally, adjudicators’ reviews and tabulations determine awards in technical and creative achievement, as well as best musical.

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.

The final competition is a public performance in May on the Wharton Center Cobb Great Hall stage when judges will determine Michigan’s best actor and best actress. The winners will vie for the National High School Musical Theatre Award.

The Sutton Foster Award winners also earn a $1,000 cash prize and free tuition to Take It From The Top, our summer Broadway performance workshop.

The Sutton Foster Awards are presented by Wharton Center for Performing Arts in partnership with Broadway Grand Rapids and Broadway in Detroit, with additional support provided by Nancy Passanante.

Questions? Contact Ben English at [email protected] or (517) 884.3171.

Announcements and News

Announcing the winners of the 8th annual Sutton Foster Awards

These awards celebrate actors’ outstanding artistic achievement from a musical theatre production. Evaluated on vocals, dance and acting skills…

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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…

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Wharton Center Cancels Sutton Foster Awards Due to Covid-19 Pandemic

Wharton Center continues to follow the latest information and directives regarding COVID-19. This pandemic is affecting the entertainment industry in unprecedented ways.

Wharton Center just learned the Broadway League has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Jimmy Awards® due to the ongoing crisis. Because of this, the Center is also suspending this season’s Sutton Foster Awards, scheduled for May 2020.

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