Tommy Awards a huge success, Madison Opera apprentices shine

On Sunday night the Overture Center for the Arts hosted the first annual Tom Wopat Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater, aka The Tommys! It was a special night, with Overture Hall brimming with energy and excitement. The six winning schools for outstanding musical each performed a medley, as did all winners for outstanding lead performer (pictured above is Janesville Craig High School’s winning production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”) Over in the presenters section, we just couldn’t believe the talent on stage. The voices, the dancing, and the maturity and aplomb of everyone on stage was truly thrilling.

It was also exciting to pick out Madison Opera High School Apprentices, past and present. Former apprentice Carrie Juergens was a big winner for leading performer in “Once on this Island” at Waunakee Community High School. Also on stage belting it out were Abigail Graf in Monona Grove’s best musical medley for “All Shook Up” and Caitlin Miller in River Valley High School’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” A big thank you to Overture’s Tim Sauers for organizing a fantastic event, and a special nod to Madison Opera chorus master Andrew Abrams, who acted as pianist and music director for the show. Pictures are now online here.

Subscription renewal deadline this Friday

Attention renewing subscribers: the clock is ticking! If you wish to retain your seats from seasons past, please complete your 2010-11 subscription order form by this Friday, June 4th. It’s easy: either subscribe online, mail in the brochure order form, or call (608) 238-8085. You can also swing by our office at 3414 Monroe St. if you’d prefer to place your order in person.

Madison Opera’s 2010-11 Season marks the company’s 50th Anniversary. Explore casting information, audio samples, photos, plot summaries, and much more about our season operas on the pages below:

The Tommy Awards

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.