Theatre Under the Stars

Theatre Under The Stars awarded high school students from across the Greater Houston area for excellence in theatre last night at the 16th Annual Tommy Tune Awards!

The Tommy Tune Awards Program celebrates the educational value, artistry, and community of high school musical theatre in the Greater Houston area. Theatre Under The Stars believes that experiences in the arts cultivate confidence, spark creative thinking, and inspire life-long learning. The Tommy Tune Awards is an opportunity for students and educators to share their creative accomplishments as individuals, as collaborators, and as members of the greater Houston community.

Hosting the Tommy Tune Awards this year was local actor, and a favorite of Houston audiences, Dylan Godwin.

Presenters for the evening included Guy Buckley, Chun Wai Chan, Dr. John Cornelius, II, Cissy Segal Davis, James Gross, Simone Gundy, Hillary Hart, Dan Knechtges, Perryn Leech, Kim Tobin Lehl, Philip Lehl, Barry Mandel, Eileen J. Morris, Kevin Rigdon, Dr. Robert Shimko, Michael Tapley, Keith Thomas, Ian Tonroy, Harper Watters and Muhammad Yunus.

The winners of the 16th Annual Tommy Tune Awards are:

Best Musical:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Leading Actor:
Garrett Morris from Friendswood High School as Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Best Leading Actress:
Emily Mesa from Friendswood High School as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Best Supporting Actor:
Ri’Chard Jordan from G.W. Carver Magnet High School as Jack the Bear/Buddy Bolden in Jelly’s Last Jam

Best Supporting Actress:
Rachel Young from Second Baptist School as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!

Best Featured Performer:
Joy Edmonds, Brea Porter, and Maddison Joyce from Westfield High School as the Trio of Church Ladies – Jarene, Doris, and Darlene in The Color Purple

Best Ensemble/Chorus:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Scenic Design:
Shrek The MusicalPearland High School

Best Costume Design:
Crazy for YouThe Kinkaid School

Best Lighting Design:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Stage Crew & Technical Execution:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Musical Direction:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Orchestra:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

Best Choreography:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School
Crazy for YouThe Kinkaid School

Best Direction:
The Hunchback of Notre DameFriendswood High School

The Tommy Tune Awards are named for Houston native and Lamar High School alumnus, Tommy Tune. A performer, director and choreographer with more than 50 years of stage experience, Tune received nine Tony Awards® for his work in the following productions: Seesaw, My One and Only, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Nine, Grand Hotel and The Will Rogers Follies. He was also awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Tune is currently taking an autobiographical stroll in Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales where he dances, sings and tale-tells through more than 50 years of showmanship.


Theatre Under The Stars awards merit and needs-based scholarships to outstanding students from the 45 Participating Schools and six Alternate Schools that are part of the 2018 Tommy Tune Awards Program. The recipients range from performers, designers, directors, technicians, choreographers, and musicians who have been involved in their school’s Tommy Tune production.

The Ruth Denney Scholarship is awarded to a Tommy Tune student who exemplifies the art and scholarship of musical theatre. The scholarship was named in honor of Tune’s mentor and legendary Lamar High School drama teacher, Ruth Denney. She was also the founder and first director of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, and then Professor of Drama Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Sean Rudolph Scholarship for Musical Theatre was named for the prominent producer and champion of emerging artists in the theatre and contemporary arts, the Sean Rudolph Scholarship is awarded to a student who exemplifies innovation and creativity in the field of musical theatre. 

The Tommy Tune Scholarships are awarded to applicants who have achieved excellence in the field of musical theatre. Students are considered based on merit-based qualifications as well as financial qualifications.

Over the past 16 years, TUTS and the Tommy Tune Awards have rewarded 129 student university scholarships, totaling $379,000 in individual arts-based scholarships.

This year’s scholarship recipients are as follows:

Morgan Simon
Julia Chavarria
Nikole Vollmer
Alexander Kerry
Ryan Esparza
Jade Chang
Jacob Rodriguez
Mia Munn
Brianna Watt
Morgan Dallison
Hayley Christensen
William Byrne
Kiara Curtis

Recipient of the Ruth Denney Scholarship:
Sara Burpeau

Recipient of the Sean Rudolph Scholarship:
Ashton Lambert

Jimmy® Awards

The Best Leading Actor and Actress will go on to compete at the national level for the Jimmy® Award at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. Established in 2009, the Jimmy® Awards are named after Broadway theatre owner and producer, James M. Nederlander. This year, the program will bring the country’s best high school performers together to compete on Broadway on June 25. While in New York, Jimmy® Award participants will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and master classes, receive one-on-one coaching from theater professionals, be seen by casting agents, meet and converse with Broadway actors and compete for scholarships and other prizes. The week’s events will culminate in a live awards show where the Jimmy® Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress will be presented.

The Tommy Tune Awards would not be possible without the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Sean Rudolph Foundation, The Cullen Trust for the Performing ArtsVivian L. Smith Foundation, Stoneturn Group / Alan and Tricia Ratliff, and David and Marsha Taylor. Theatre Under The Stars is grateful for our Season Sponsors: Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, United Airlines, KTRK ABC-13, and Phoenicia Specialty Foods. TUTS is supported by the City of Houston through the Theater District.