Overture Announces Local National High School Musical Theater Award Candidates
Sophia Tzougros of Kettle Moraine, Jon Turner of New Berlin Headed for New York
Two local recipients of Overture’s Tommy Awards for Outstanding Lead Performance will represent Wisconsin in the weeklong National High School Musical Awards competition in New York City later this month.
Sophia Tzougros of Kettle Moraine, a senior at Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance, and Jon Turner of New Berlin, a senior at Menomonee Falls High School, were chosen from among 24 Tommy Award recipients who auditioned last weekend. They will travel to New York later this June for an intense week of training and rehearsal with veteran performers, culminating in a final performance on June 30 at the storied Minskoff Theater on Broadway. One boy and one girl will be named winners of national Jimmy Awards, named for Broadway legend James Nederlander.
“It was a strong field of talented young performers,” said Overture Center vice president of programming Tim Sauers, who oversees the Tommy Award program. “We gave out 70 Outstanding Lead Performance awards. It really is astounding, the level of talent we have here in southern Wisconsin. Sophia and Jon are the cream of the crop, but I really think a lot of the kids we saw have a real chance at careers in performance.”
“Being selected to go to New York is significant of many things, the biggest being that I am representing the state of Wisconsin as a musical theater performer,” said Turner, who plans to study musical theater at UW-Stevens Point in the fall. “I can’t fathom the idea that I am to be the image of this state as I travel to New York to compete. I simply hope to learn as much as I can not only as a performer, but as a person. I’m elated to be working with such seasoned professionals, and I just want to listen to and absorb all of the wisdom I can regarding the world of musical theater.”
“Going to the Jimmys means a chance for me to broaden my horizons, to meet new people my age, and work with professionals to get better,” said Tzougros, who will attend Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, to study theater performance. “I hope to make new friends, work hard on my acting and performing techniques, and enjoying this amazingly ridiculous opportunity to its fullest with Jon.”
Turner earned his Tommy Award for his portrayal of Bobby Strong in Urinetown the Musical at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee. Tzougros was recognized for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She is also a member of Overture Center’s Tommy Performance Ensemble.
Overture’s Tommy Awards program included more than sixty schools in 2013/14, its fifth year. A panel of theater professionals, educators and others attended shows, offered feedback to the performers, and nominated award recipients.
Overture’s Tommy Awards were one of 28 regional awards programs represented at the NHMTA. Those programs included a total of about 50,000 teens.
Overture’s Tommy Awards are named in honor of local musical theater hero Tom Wopat, critically acclaimed and Tony Award-nominated singer and actor. Born in Lodi, Wisconsin, Wopat first started singing and dancing in high school musicals, and studied music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before getting his “big break” in 1978 as Luke Duke in the immensely popular Dukes of Hazzard television show. He even directed several episodes during the show’s six-year run.
The Tommy Awards are funded in part by CUNA Mutual Group and contributions to Overture Center for the Arts, with additional support from Wisconsin Public Radio and The Onion and A.V. Club of Madison.
Founded in 2009, NHSMTA’s mission is to raise the profile of musical theater in schools, recognize dedicated teachers and inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts. The program has been the catalyst for more than $760,000 in educational scholarships made available to deserving students. NHSMTA is produced by the Broadway Education Alliance and Pittsburgh CLO and is supported by many leading theater industry organizations including The Broadway League, BWF (Weissler) Foundation, Disney Theatrical Productions, Jujamcyn Theatres, Music Theatre International, the Nederlander Organization, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Samuel French Library, Shubert Organization, Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc., Ticketmaster and others. The “Jimmy Award” is named for legendary Broadway producer/theater owner James M. Nederlander. To learn more about the National High School Musical Theater Awards and/or to make a donation to the program, please visit nhsmta.com.
About Overture Center for the Arts
Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and five galleries where national and international touring artists, ten resident companies, and hundreds of local artists engage nearly half a million people in educational and artistic experiences each year.
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