MILLBURN, NJ - The Columbia High School (CHS) Performing Arts Department spring production of "Hairspray" has received twelve Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award nominations, and three Honorable Mentions.

CHS was among the top nominated high schools with 9 nominations; the only school with more was Union High School with 12 nominations. Delaware Valley Regional High School and West Morris Central High School each had 8 nominations.

"We are immensely proud to direct and choreograph the CHS musical," shared Bethany Pettigrew, who along with Tricia Benn received three nominations, including for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging. "We are amazed every year at what our student performers achieve and beyond thrilled that our community comes out to support us. Being nominated for a Rising Star award is just icing on the cake!"

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Nominations for Columbia's production of "Hairspray" are as follows:

  • Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Hunter Kovacs as “Corny Collins” 
  • Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
  • Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra
  • Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher or Outside Director - Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew
  • Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction - Jamie Bunce and Peter F. Bauer
  • Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging - Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew
  • Outstanding Costuming Achievement
  • Outstanding Hair and Make-up Achievement - Suzanne Roghanchi, Tricia Benn and Bethany Pettigrew   

Honorable Mentions:

  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Naomi Fisch as “Amber Von Tussle”
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Madie Reilly as “Velma Von Tussle”
  • Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role -  Ben Blais as “Wilbur Turnblad”

The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater were created in 1996 to encourage and reward exceptional accomplishments in the production of high school musical theatre. Presented by the Investors Foundation, the "Rising Star Awards" is a statewide competition of New Jersey high school musicals modeled after Broadway's Tony Awards. 

“We are very excited to celebrate excellence in high school musical theater with the students of New Jersey,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director. “For many New Jersey schools, the prestigious honor of a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star nomination is the culmination of their hard work in a high school musical. Many of our Rising Star nominees and winners are now working professionally and have won esteemed industry awards while working in theater and film.” 

The Awards Ceremony will be held at the Paper Mill Playhouse Monday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m., and will feature presenters from Broadway and beyond, according to a press release from the Paper Mill Playhouse. 

CHS has received numerous Rising Star Award nominations in the past: in 2017, the production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" received twelve nominations and two Honorable Mentions; in 2016 the production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" had ten nominations and four Honorable Mentions, and in 2015, "Ragtime: School Edition," garnered 14 nominations.