[Skip to Content]

Sutton Foster Ovation Awards

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 male and female winner of the Sutton Foster Ovation 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, the Ovation Awards recognize individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performances for both a male and female 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

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

There is a $275 fee per nominated musical production, and the deadline for applications is January 13, 2020.

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 our 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 live performance of your musical. Adjudicators will nominate two students for “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” from each qualifying production who will be invited to participate in the Ovation Awards on May 16 and 17, 2020. 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 receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York, where they will perform on Broadway and vie for the National High School Musical Theatre Award.

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

To nominate your fall or spring production for “Best Musical” please complete the application

We are now accepting applications for the 2020 Sutton Foster Ovation Awards

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.

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

Sutton Foster Ovation Award 2019 Winners

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

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

More Info

The 2017 Sutton Foster Ovation 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