The hills were alive with music last night - or at least the Hobby Center was - as the TUTS (Theatre Under the Stars) 11th Annual Tommy Tune Awards were graced by the presence and performance of none other than Tommy Tune himself, Houston native and multiple Tony Award winner. The awards honor the accomplishments of local high schools in presenting productions of notable merit, and the awards ceremony has become a much-anticipated and much-appreciated event in Houston's theatrical scene.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific landed awards for Pearland High School, which won the award as Best Musical, as well as awards for Best Leading Actress (Allison Anderson as Nellie Forbush), Best Supporting Actor (Nathan Agnew as Billis), Best Choreography, and Best Crew and Technical Execution.
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Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: School edition was produced by Klein Oak High School, and garnered Ryne Nardecchia the Best Actor award in the title role. The production also won for Best Musical Direction. Both Nardecchia and Anderson will proceed to New York City, all expenses paid, to represent TUTS and to compete July1, for the JimmyTM Award as part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Minskoff Theater.
Seussical won Best Scenic Design for James E. Taylor High School and another production of this Dr. Seuss-inspired contemporary classic won Best Lighting Design for Episcopal High School. Madeline Garvis won Best Supporting Actress as Paulette in St. Agnes Academy's Legally Blonde, and Stephen Louis won Best Featured Performer as Christopher Belling in Clear Springs High School's Curtains.
Stratford High School won Best Direction for Crazy For You, and Katy High School won Best Orchestra for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. G. W. Carver Magnet High School won Best Ensemble/Chorus for The Color Purple and Second Baptist School won Best Costume Design for On the Town.
In addition to the awards, ten scholarships were awarded to outstanding students. Co-hosts for the award ceremony were Jim Bernhard and Sarah Pepper, and a number of local celebrities presented awards. Over 2500 enthusiastic members of the audience attended the sold-out ceremonies, and were privileged to witness the students performing, both by themselves and with Tommy Tune in an opening Applause/Applause medley.