Have you heard about The Tommys? Last year, the Overture Center for the Arts announced an exciting new initiative to honor and advance high school musical theater in Southern Wisconsin: the Tom Wopat Awards for Excellence in Musical Theater. Twenty three regional high schools participated in the program, which concludes this Sunday, June 6th at 7 p.m. with a full blown awards ceremony in Overture Hall.
How did it work? The Overture Center dispatched industry professionals to rate and review each participating school’s production. Overture Center’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement Tim Sauers attended every performance, and he compiled reports to send each school based on reviewer feedback, which also eventually shaped the winners. You can read more about the process in this article in 77 Square.
Why do we care so much about The Tommys? For starters, the program offers valuable constructive criticism for the participating schools, which encourages improvement and builds excitement for future productions. At the same time, the awards provide recognition for hardworking drama kids and teachers who spend countless hours putting on a show…something we can relate to!
Also, it turns out there is more than one direct connection to Madison Opera with this year’s inaugural winners. Our Flora for The Turn of the Screw in January, Jennifer DeMain (daughter of Maestro John DeMain), is an outstanding leading performer winner for Edgewood High School’s production of “Anything Goes”, and so is our Director of Finance and Administration’s daughter, Charlotte Martin, also for “Anything Goes” (the two stellar seniors were double-cast as Reno Sweeney)! Not to mention, your blogger here was a reviewer for the Tommys, and is also a presenter at the awards ceremony this Sunday.
So it has been an exciting year for this new initiative, and the upcoming ceremony–featuring performances from winning schools–will surely be a fantastic event. It’s open to the public, with general admission only $15, so come on down.
One last note, in case you’re wondering: why Tom Wopat? The Broadway star is a native of Lodi, Wisconsin, just 20 minutes north of Madison.