Local students win high school musical theater awards

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Frank Schultz
Saturday, May 20, 2017

MADISON—High schools across Rock and Walworth counties have again distinguished themselves in an awards program that recognizes achievement in musical theater.

Janesville Craig High School was one of 16 schools recognized for “outstanding musical” for its production last fall of “Into the Woods,” among other awards.

“Into the Woods” director Matt Imhoff said the awards confirm what the adults in the production already know, “that our students are talented, that they've grown through the process, and it shows that the hard work is appreciated by people in the theater community who can look at a piece thoroughly and critically.”

Janesville Parker High School and the Janesville School District summer musical won awards, as well.

Other high schools on the awards list include Beloit Memorial, Clinton, Evansville, Lake Geneva Badger and Whitewater.

Jim Tropp, director of the Parker and summer musicals, said he was glad of the recognition of a large number of talented students.

“I take it as a celebration of musical theater in high schools around the state. It just shows you how much good is out there,” Tropp said.

Some of the students winning awards will perform in the annual awards ceremony at the Overture Center in Madison. That includes the cast of Craig's “Into the Woods," who will perform one number, and all the students who won leading-performer awards.

The 8th Annual Tommy Awards Show will be Sunday, June 11. Tickets cost $25 and go on sale at 11 a.m. Monday.

"It's a great moment. It's a great celebration of musical theater,” Tropp said.

Craig's Lexi Ganong and Jessica Minter both won two leading-performer awards for “Into the Woods” and “Carrousel,” which was the school district's summer musical with high schoolers from around the area performing.

Ganong was Cinderella in “Into the Woods” and Julie Jordan in “Carousel.”

Minter was the witch in “Into the Woods” and Carrie Pepperidge in “Carrousel.”

Parker's Riley Parkhurst also won two leading performer awards for his roles as Bert in “Mary Poppins” and Gomez in “The Addams Family.”

Parkhurst also won supporting-actor recognition for his Jigger Craigin in “Carrousel.”

Other leading-performer winners include Ellie Heinzen of Verona High School for her Nettie Fowler in the Janesville School District's “Carrousel” and Parker High's Addison Schuh for her Alice Beineke in “The Addams Family.”

Imhoff made special mention of the “Into the Woods” stage manager, Rachel Wente, who, because she was part of the team producing the outstanding-musical award, was not eligible for the stage-management award.

Wente made sure the special effects worked on cue, and she executed 450 light cues during the show.

“She's as good as a professional. … She's incredible,” Imhoff said.

The Tommy Awards program is based at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. It's named for Wisconsin's Tom Wopat, a Broadway star who is still better known for playing Luke Duke on the 1990s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard.”

The program began in Dane and surrounding counties and has expanded over the years, this year including parts of central Wisconsin.

The 2016-17 season included judging of 87 productions at 82 schools.


The following is a list of the Tommy Award winners from Rock and Walworth counties. It does not include the winners from high schools in the 21 other counties represented in the program.

-- Outstanding Musical: “Into the Woods,” Craig High School--Matthew Imhoff, direction, musical staging, scenic and lighting design; Adam Miller, musical direction and conductor; Sharon White, costume design; Mike Schuler, sound design; and Rachel Wente, stage manager.

-- Outstanding Ensemble: “Once Upon A Mattress,” Badger High School; “Carrousel,” Janesville School District; “The Addams Family," Parker High School.

-- Outstanding Leading Performance: Lexi Ganong in “Into the Woods,” Craig High School, and in “Carousel,” Janesville School District; Ellie Heinzen in “Carrousel,” Janesville School District; Jessica Minter in “Into the Woods,” Craig High School, and “Carousel,” Janesville School District; Riley Parkhurst in “Mary Poppins” and in “The Addams Family,” both Parker High School; Addison Schuh in “The Addams Family," Parker High School;

-- Outstanding Supporting Performance: Colin Carlson in "Disney's High School Musical,” Clinton High School; Michael Hilliger in “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School; Randy Kessenigh in “Carousel,” Janesville School District; Riley Parkhurst in “Carousel,” Janesville School District; and Keegan Theile, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School;

-- Outstanding Dance Performance: Heidi Engerman in “Once Upon A Mattress,” Badger High School, Samantha Grahn in “Mary Poppins,” Beloit Memorial High School; and Grace Schmaling in “Carousel,” Janesville School District.

-- Outstanding Youth Performance: Hunter Kedrowski, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School.

-- Spirit Award: Haley Dieter, “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School; Isaac Hanna, “Carousel,” Janesville School District; Brianna Havens “Once Upon a Mattress,” Badger High School; Lexi Long, “Into the Woods,” Craig High School; Sam Murdy, “Mary Poppins,” Parker High School; Anna Nelson, “The Little Mermaid,” Evansville High School; Cole Turner, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School; Dylan Witte, “Disney's High School Musical,” Clinton High School.

-- Outstanding direction: Andrew Stoltenberg, “Once Upon A Mattress,” Badger High School; Jim Tropp, “Mary Poppins,” Parker High School.

-- Outstanding Choreography: Lynn Lema, “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School; Lauren Parets, “Once Upon A Mattress," Badger High School; Michael Stanek, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School, “Mary Poppins,” Parker High School, and “Carousel,” Janesville School District.

-- Outstanding Stage Management: Allison August, Alyssa DeJong and Lauren Flynn, “Mary Poppins,” Parker High School; Madison Smith and Lillian Sulli, “Once Upon A Mattress,” Badger High School.

-- Outstanding Scenic Design: Jim McCulloch and Steve Smith, “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School; Larry Schultz and Jim Tropp, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School;

-- Outstanding Costume Design: Janeen Barlass, “The Little Mermaid,” Evansville High School; Amber Fornstedt, Amber Hayes and Emily Stoffel, “The Addams Family,” Parker High School; Amber Hayes, “Carousel,” Janesville School District; Amber Hayes, “Mary Poppins,” Parker High School; Deb Herbers, “The Little Mermaid,” Evansville High School; Becky Hoesly and Jen Smith, “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School; Eileen McCormick and Kathy Stoltenberg, "Once Upon A Mattress,” Badger High School.

-- Outstanding Sound Design: Savannah Boss and Tony Hanson, “Big Fish,” Whitewater High School.

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