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May 13, 2019

Announcing the winners of the 8th annual Sutton Foster Ovation Awards

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Sarah Nelson, from Milford High School in Highland, Michigan and Eric Liu, from Rockford High School in Rockford, Michigan, competed in and won the Best Actress and Best Actor prizes in the 8th annual Sutton Foster Ovation Awards at Wharton Center on Sunday, May 12, 2019. These awards celebrate actors’ outstanding artistic achievement from a musical theatre production. Evaluated on vocals, dance and acting skills, these two students were the top contestants out of total of 46 nominated drama students. This award is named in honor of Michigan’s own Broadway star, Sutton Foster (two-time Tony Award® winner). Sarah Nelson & Eric Liu were given free tuition to TAKE IT FROM THE TOP (Wharton Center’s summer Broadway performance workshop), an all-expenses paid trip to New York City, and a $1,000 prize. They will compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards (the Jimmy Awards) being held on Monday June 24, 2019, hosted by Ben Platt (Tony Awards®, Grammy Awards® and Emmy Awards winner).

In addition, the following awards were given:

  • 2019 Excellence in Musical Theatre Education Award
    Brad Garnaat, Homeschool Performing Arts, Lansing, MI
  • 2019 Spirit of Ovation Award
    Eric Liu, Rockford High School, Rockford, MI
  • 2019 Best Choreography Award
    Rhonda Van Buren and Sarah Nicklowiz, Rockford High School, Rockford, MI
  • 2019 Best Costuming Award
    Brenna Sackett, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Direction Award
    Ashley Bowen, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Featured Actor Award
    Chiron Finn, Mount Pleasant High School, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • 2019 Best Featured Actress Award
    Madison Fairman, Dakota High School, Macomb, MI
  • 2019 Best Featured Dancer Award
    Emilia Divergilio, Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield Hills, MI
  • 2019 Best Hair and Makeup Design Award
    Becky Klose, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Lighting Design Award
    Jason Frink, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Set Design Award
    Sam Snow, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Musical Award
    Big Fish!, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI
  • 2019 Best Musical Direction Award
    Cindy Hunter, Portage Central High School, Portage, MI

For more information on the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, visit jimmyawards.com.

The Sutton Foster Ovation 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.