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Sutton Foster Awards

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

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

The two winners for Outstanding Performer in a Leading Role at 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 two leading roles in a high school musical theatre production. It also honors the commitment of Michigan teachers and schools to excellence in performing arts education.

How it works

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

There is a $275 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 “Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role” from each qualifying production who will then be invited to participate in the Sutton Foster Awards. Additionally, adjudicator 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 two Outstanding Performers in a Leading Role. 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.

Application and Guidelines

The Sutton Foster Awards are presented by Wharton Center for Performing Arts in partnership with Broadway Grand Rapids and Broadway in Detroit. 

Sponsored by Honigman, LLP and Piper & Gold Public Relations with additional support from Nancy Passanante.

Questions? Contact Ben English at wc.ben.english@whartoncenter.com​ or (517) 884.3171.

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