11th Annual Sutton Foster Awards | Greater Lansing Area Moms

The Wharton Center of Performing Arts is presenting the 11th annual Sutton Foster Awards in partnership with Broadway in Detroit on May 21 at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre.  

The awards program is a state-wide educational initiative celebrating Michigan high school musical theatre and is a flagship educational initiative of Wharton Center. 

The program features 130 high school students performing selections from their school musicals and a variety of Broadway medleys.   Fifty-three high schools are participating this year and will be celebrated for their outstanding achievements – six of which are from the Greater Lansing area – DeWitt, East Lansing, Everett, Grand Ledge, Portland and St. Johns.

GLAMoms recently had the opportunity to learn more about a few of the area schools who are taking part in the Sutton Foster awards and how you can get more information about their upcoming programs and performances.

Yet first, we would like to say thank you to Wharton Center!  Wharton Center facilitates incredible opportunities for us and in turn, we are able to share these opportunities with you! 

East Lansing High School, Chicago: Teen Edition

Eric Cadena, Vocal Music Director of East Lansing High Schools Theatre Department shares about Chicago presented by East Lansing High School Students. 
Our students were determined and dedicated to bring together an intentionally crafted and thoroughly enjoyable production of Chicago: Teen Edition for our audiences. Their time, focus and energy throughout our rehearsal process and in performance was consistently solid and cohesive.   The performance was made up of 70 students in cast, crew and pit

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming school year? 
Our program’s future is bright with students returning with prior theatrical experience. The motivation and energy the students bring to each production consistently encourages me to work hard to bring out their very best. 

How about next year, any idea on what performance we can look forward to?
No decisions made at this point.


Learn more by visiting the East Lansing High School website, East Lansing High School Theater Facebook and Instagram pages.
Photo credit: East Lansing High School 

Grand Ledge High School, Mamma Mia!

Tracy Clark, Director, Choreographer, Producer at Grand Ledge Public Schools shares about their performance of Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia was an incredibly fun show to produce and it was definitely an audience favorite – we sold out all 5 shows! We love having a community that supports the arts here in Grand Ledge.  The production was made up of 90 cast and 20 crew.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming school year? 
We are losing 35 seniors from our program, but we have many talented students coming up. We are hoping to follow up our SOLD out run of Mamma Mia with another great show for our community!

If known, what productions do you have planned?
We have not announced our Fall 2023 show.

Visit Grand Ledge Public Schools for more information.
Photo credit – Marvin Hall

Portland High School, Addams Family, School Edition

Chandra Polasek, Theater Program Director at Portland Public Schools shares about their production of Addams Family, School Edition.
This was the largest production we have done in my 6 years as director, and by far the most complex musically. We loved learning and growing together as a team through this show.  The production was made up of 35 students.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming school year? 
Continuing to grow our program and challenging ourselves in new ways. We did some Viewpoints work with this last production- I’m hoping to continue to build on that work. I’d also like to maybe explore some other ways we can physically represent the intention of our characters, perhaps through circus arts or dance training. 

What productions do you have planned?
I have an idea, but we don’t secure rights until the next fiscal year (July), so I can’t say yet 🙂

Visit Portland Public Schools for more information 
Photo credit – Mandy Johnston

St. Johns High School, Matilda

Barry Palmer, Musical Director of St Johns Public Schools Theatre Department shares about Matilda presented by St. Johns Public School students.
The story of an extraordinary girl who dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. Miranda Bourne who played Matilda, epitomized who she is! Eli Caroland who played Trunchbull captured her character very well. Jacob Glew who played Mr. Wormwood portrayed an evil father very well.  The performance was made up of 100 students.

If known, what productions do you have planned?
We have a solid cast returning.

How about next year, any idea on what performance we can look forward to?
We are still deciding.

Learn more by visiting the St Johns Public Schools Theatre Department website, or the St. Johns Public Schools Theatre Department Facebook Page
Photo credit:  Josh Ortman

More about the Sutton Foster Awards and the process to from recent Wharton Center: 

Sutton Foster Awards are open to all Michigan high schools regardless of location, school size, or musical budget.

“We are thrilled to showcase the extraordinary talents of high school students all across Michigan,” Wharton Center’s Executive Director Eric Olmscheid says, “and we are excited to partner with the Ambassador Theatre Group to host the 2023 Sutton Foster Awards in Detroit, truly taking this state-wide program to the next level.”

Leading up to the showcase, three adjudicators comprised of theatre professionals attended each school’s full musical production. They provided feedback directly to the schools and nominated students to participate in the Awards Showcase. Production recognition was given to schools based on merit rather than direct competition.

This year’s Sutton Foster Awards also included multiple year-long learning opportunities. Participants worked directly with touring Broadway professionals in musical theatre performance master classes and technical and creative workshops. From shows like Pretty Woman:The Musical to Beetlejuice, Michigan students were able to work with some of the best in the business!

Two performers will be selected to represent Michigan at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (Jimmy Awards) in New York City this June.  Cash scholarships and tuition to Wharton Center’s summer Broadway experience, Take It From The Top, will also be awarded.

For a complete list of participating high schools and their productions, visit www.whartoncenter.com/sutton-foster-awards

Tickets for the Sutton Foster Awards are on sale now through the official Wharton Center Ticket Office, online at whartoncenter.com or by calling 517.432.2000 or 1.800.WHARTON

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