TUTS announces high school nominations for 14th Annual Tommy Tune awards

The John Cooper School, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Theatre Under The Stars has announced the nominations and presenters for TUTS’ 14th annual Tommy Tune Awards, which will be held on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The Tommy Tune Awards recognize and reward excellence in the production of musical theatre by high school students and their teachers. Co-hosts for this year’s awards ceremony include Sarah Pepper and Jim Bernhard. Pepper is a host on Hot 95.7. Bernhard has written several original productions that have debuted at TUTS and authored the organization’s theatrical history book, “Stars In Your Eyes”.

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The Woodlands High School, The Music Man

After evaluating the 45 participating Houston-area high school productions during the 2015-2016 school year, a team of 30 Houston-based theatre professionals nominated 164 participants in 15 award categories. An additional committee considered 42 potential scholarship recipients.

The following high schools and individuals were nominated:


Best Supporting Actress:

  • Anna Strickland from The Woodlands High School as Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man

Best Featured Performer:

  • Mallory Bechtel from The John Cooper School as Fairy Godmother in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
  • Maddie Gustitis from The Woodlands High School as Ethyl in The Music Man


Best Costume Design:

  • The Woodlands High School, The Music Man

Best Stage Crew & Technical Execution:

  • The John Cooper School, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Orchestra:

  • The Woodlands High School, The Music Man

Best Choreography:

  • The John Cooper School, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
  • The Woodlands High School, The Music Man

Presenters for the evening will include Miller Outdoor Theatre’s Managing Director Cissy Segall Davis, KUHT’s Ernie Manouse, ABC 13’s Tom Koch and TUTS Chairperson Amy Pierce.

TUTS’ Tommy Tune Awards are designed not only to acknowledge remarkable musical theatre talent at the high school level, but also to encourage future artistic development. TUTS will present eight scholarships to outstanding participating students of the Tommy Tune Awards.

These include the Ruth Denney Scholarship, named in honor of Tune’s mentor and legendary Lamar High School drama teacher. Ruth Denney was the founder and first director of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and then Professor of Drama Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She died in 2007, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.

Students under consideration were required to meet specific criteria set out by the Scholarship Committee, as well as submit an application and an essay. The scholarship committee, composed of TUTS board members, has carefully reviewed all of the applications and will announce the scholarship recipients during the awards ceremony.

The Best Leading Actor and Actress will go on to compete at the national level for the Jimmy™ Award at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

Established in 2009, the Jimmy™ Awards are named after Broadway theatre owner and producer, James M. Nederlander. This year, the program will bring the country’s best high school performers together to compete on Broadway on June 27. While in New York, Jimmy™ Award participants will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and master classes, receive one-on-one coaching from theater professionals, be seen by casting agents, meet and converse with Broadway actors and compete for scholarships and other prizes. The week’s events will culminate in a live awards show where the Jimmy™ Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress will be presented.

TUTS’ Tommy Tune Awards are named for Houston native and Lamar High School alumnus, Tommy Tune. A performer, director and choreographer with more than 50 years of stage experience, Tune received nine Tony Awards® for his work in the following productions: Seesaw, My One and Only, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Nine, Grand Hotel and The Will Rogers Follies. He was also awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003 by President Bush. Tune is currently taking an autobiographical stroll in Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales where he dances, sings and tale-tells through more than 50 years of showmanship.

The Tommy Tune Awards ceremony is open to the general public. VIP tickets are on sale now, and standard tickets will be available for purchase beginning on April 7. To purchase VIP tickets or to receive more information, call (713) 558-8887 or visit TUTS.com/TommyTune.