MILLBURN, NJ — This past Monday night, Paper Mill Playhouse streamed the Rising Star Honors presented by The Investors Foundation, drawing more than 10,000 views on Facebook and YouTube as it premiered. The virtual show celebrated the nearly 100 New Jersey high schools participating in the annual Rising Star Awards, which was canceled due to the current health crisis. Although many of the school musicals never made it to opening night, over sixty New Jersey high schools shared highlights of their performances, rehearsals, and some newly created videos to highlight their school’s theater programs.

The virtual event, which premiered June 1 on Paper Mill Playhouse’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, was hosted by 1996 Rising Star winner, Broadway performer, and Olivier nominee, Jared Gertner. The show included a montage of the submitted performances, appearances by additional Rising Star Alumni including Tony Award winners Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), and Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin), and ended with a surprise finale to provide hope and inspiration to the 2020 honorees.

“2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Rising Star Awards, and while our plans changed, we still wanted to honor and celebrate the talent and dedication of New Jersey’s high school theater students and programs,” said Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee. “With so many of our Rising Star alumni, who have gone onto great success in the theater industry, enthusiastically getting involved to encourage and cheer on these students, we will remember it as a very special moment in Paper Mill’s history.”

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“A Million Dreams” from the motion picture The Greatest Showman featuring Matt Ban, Jennifer Blood, Anne Brummel, Joshua Dela Cruz, Meghann Dreyfuss, Jered Gertner, Nikki M. James, Julia Knitel, Renee Marino, Rob McClure, Monette McKay, Jelani Remy, Constantine Rousouli, Mike Schwitter, Matthew Scott, and Natalie Weiss.

Rising Star Honors is presented by The Investors Foundation.

Paper Mill Playhouse Education & Outreach are generously sponsored by The Goren Family & the Harmony Helper App. “Rising Star Honors” is supported in part by Stages Online, a partnership with New Jersey Theatre Alliance to bring theatre content into homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stages Online is made possible by generous funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, Bank of America, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, OceanFirst Foundation; the George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust; New Jersey Historical Commission; and Fund for the New Jersey Blind.

Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is grateful for generous contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Michael Stotts (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is one of the country's leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

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