MILLBURN, NJ - The Paper Mill Playhouse had its18th annual Rising Star Awards on Tuesday night, June 4, and Summit High School had the distinction of taking home a total of six notable awards for their spring musical, “Beauty and the Beast” including the top award “Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical.”
Since their inception in 1996 the Paper Mill Playhouse, the awards have honored excellence in high school musical theatre. The Rising Star Awards have ignited the careers of many notable performers, all of whom attended high school in New Jersey. Among the early nominees and winners are Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway, Tony Award winners Laura Benanti and Nikki M. James, and current 2013 Tony nominee, Rob McClure. The 2013 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Ceremony was presented by the Investors Foundation.
Lisa E. Cooney, director of education at Paper Mill Playhouse, said that a total of 91 schools in New Jersey entered the competition and 52 of them were represented in the nominations. She complemented the “high caliber of achievement” that the schools have accomplished and complimented the educators who are responsible for the musical theater programs.  Cooney also said, “Paper Mill is honored to host you.” 
Summit High School Performing Arts Department had presented “Beauty and the Beast” as from March 6-10 of this year.  With elaborate costuming and sets, and a talented cast and creative team, the show was acclaimed by local audiences.  At the Rising Star Awards, the cast performed “Be Our Guest” for the Paper Mill audience along with five other schools competing for the top award, “Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical.”

The other contenders included Union High School performing a piece from “Cats,” Fair Lawn High School performing a piece from “Runaways,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School doing a selection from “The Wedding Singer,” Gill St. Bernard’s School performing a piece from “Little Women,”  and Bergen County Academies doing a selection from “Brigadoon.” 
In addition to the “Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical” award, Summit High School also received the following Rising Star Awards:
“Outstanding Achievement in Lobby Display” - Mary-Ann Terrett and Tina White
“Outstanding Performance by a Featured Ensemble Group” – “Silly Girls”
“Musical Director” – Wayne Mallette and Steve Rapp
“Student Achievement Award” – Sam Rollino, Set Construction Crew Head
“Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher or Outside Director” – Anne Poyner
Cast members and members of the Summit community expressed delight and pride in their awards. Senior, Kendra Lerner was the Dance Captain for “Beauty and the Beast.” She said she was “beyond excited.”
Junior Allison Scott played Belle in the show.  She said, “This is incredible.  I knew the show had the potential to do this.  It is amazing to have a lead role with this wonderful cast.”
There was a great deal of support for the show by Summit parents.  Lambi Newsham’s daughter Lynsey is a senior.  She expressed pride in Lynsey’s wardrobe achievements and Lambi was instrumental in coordinating volunteers in the school community.
Managing Director, Todd Schmidt and Producing Director Mark S. Hoebee presented the “Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical Award” to Summit High School.  Hoebee said that he hoped that the love of musical theater will bring the audience back to Paper Mill Playhouse often.