North Texas high school students, teachers, and their theater departments were celebrated in a virtual ceremony of the 9th Annual Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards (DSM HSMTA) on Thursday, May 14. The one-hour production presented on YouTube consisted of digital ensemble performances, award and scholarship recipient announcements, acceptance speeches, and several cameos from top Broadway talent.
Patterned after Broadway’s Tony Awards®, DSM HSMTA celebrates the power of the arts and its ability to significantly improve all areas of education and creativity. The 2020 Best Musical Award went to Guyer High School’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the Best Leading Actor award was presented to Beau Cochran (A&M Consolidated High School), Best Leading Actress went to Haley Dortch (Guyer High School) for the second consecutive year, Bethany White-Turner (Everman High School) and Altraniecia Starr (Mansfield High School) received Outstanding Educator Awards, and 15 scholarships were awarded to deserving students pursuing degrees in both theatre and non-theatre majors.
“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees! What an unforgettable evening spent celebrating the fantastic work done by each and every one of these students and faculty members, “ said Ken Novice, president of Dallas Summer Musicals. “We are honored to witness such incredible talent rise up through our region and we look forward to seeing what these students will accomplish as they continue to pursue their love of musical theatre.”
Hosted by Dallas’ own award-winning performer Denise Lee, the virtual ceremony opened with the 2020 Best Leading Actor and Actress nominees in a virtual performance of “Where Do You Belong” from the hit Broadway show Mean Girls. Awards were then presented to students in 15 categories and $55,000 in scholarships were presented in Theatre Major, Theatre Ambassador, and Backstage Excellence categories. Broadway stars Sydney James Harcourt (Hamilton, American Idiot) and Jenn Colella (Come From Away, If/Then) announced the Best Leading Actor and Best Leading Actress award winners, and the Best Musical award was presented by four-time Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, Bandstand). The ceremony closed with a finale performance of “I See Stars” from Mean Girls by the Lead Actor and Lead Actress nominees.
Sprinkled throughout the virtual ceremony were multiple cameos from top Broadway talent, praising the students for their achievements and sharing words of encouragement. Appearances were made by Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton, American Idiot), Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar, How To Succeed…), Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, Phantom of the Opera), Lindsay Mendez (Carousel, Wicked), Erin Davie (Diana, Side Show), Jonalyn Saxer (Mean Girls, Cats), Jay Armstrong Johnson (On The Town, Phantom of the Opera), Eric Ulloa (On Your Feet), Liz Mikel (1776, Lysistrata Jones), Robert Creighton (Frozen, Mystery of Edwin Drood), Nehal Joshi (School Of Rock, All My Sons), Carolee Carmello (Mamma Mia, Finding Neverland), Aaron Lazar (The Last Ship, A Little Night Music), Ahmad Simmons (West Side Story, Hadestown), Austin Scott (Hamilton, Girl From The North Country), and Christine Toy Johnson (Come From Away national tour, Music Man).
The virtual ceremony can be watched at YouTube.com/DSMusicals. A list of all 2020 winners, participating high schools, and their productions can be found on the DSM website.
Since DSM’s first HSMTA in 2012, the program has developed regionally, accepting schools as far away as Lubbock and Oklahoma as well as new and returning schools from the DFW Metroplex. DSM’s HSMTA has grown to be one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation. DSM HSMTA has been recognized by The National High School Musical Theatre Awards as their official affiliate program for North Texas.
DSM is grateful to its season sponsors Texas Instruments, American Airlines, The Dallas Morning News, and WFAA Channel 8.