May 20, 2019

Playhouse Square Holds Fourth Annual Dazzle Awards; Awards Given in 14 Categories

With the aim of inspiring performance and recognizing the importance of musical theater and arts education in Northeast Ohio high schools, Playhouse Square proudly held the fourth annual Dazzle Awards presented by Pat and John Chapman on Saturday, May 18. The Dazzle Awards are affiliated with The Jimmy Awards®/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® presented by The Broadway League Foundation. 

This regional program offered arts education opportunities throughout the school year and culminated with an awards showcase staged by Broadway director/choreographer Rommy Sandhu. With less than a week to rehearse, nearly 200 students performed in fully choreographed opening and closing numbers. Each school nominated in the Connor Family Best Musical categories performed a song from their musical in full make-up and costumes, and the Best Actor and Actress nominees performed together. 

As part of a new technical theater apprenticeship, two students - Maya Kohrman of Hawken Upper School and Ethan Korvne of Akron School for the Arts at Firestone CLC - shadowed the Dazzle Awards lighting and sound designers, observed the creative process with the director/choreographer and music director and applied their skills with the stage management team. 

Prior to start of the show, students walked the “PNC Red Carpet” as they entered the Connor Palace. Student reporters representing participating high schools interviewed and photographed their classmates for school news programs, newspapers, social media channels and yearbooks.

Throughout the evening, Dazzle Awards were presented to outstanding musical theater productions and students in 14 categories, including the “Spirit of the Dazzle Awards” category, awarded to the student who most embodies camaraderie, passion and an infectiously positive attitude throughout rehearsal week as identified by the Dazzle Awards creative team. This year’s recipient was Sydney Montique, a freshman at Mayfield High School.  

The 2019 Dazzle Awards recipients are:

Best Student Orchestra
Willoughby South High School, Annie Get Your Gun (Revival)

Best Technical Execution
Willoughby South High School, Annie Get Your Gun (Revival)

Best Scenic Design
Solon High School, Beauty and the Beast
Solon also won this category last year and in 2016. 

Best Costume Design
Rocky River High School, Singin’ in the Rain
Rocky River also won this category last year.

Best Choreography Execution
Rocky River High School, Singin’ in the Rain 

Best Ensemble/Chorus
Solon High School, Beauty and the Beast

Best Featured Performer
Owen Stickney, Rocky River High School (‘R.F. Simpson’ in Singin' in the Rain)

Best Supporting Actress
Jenai Mosley, CMSD All-City Musical (‘Andy Lee’ in 42nd Street)

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Rajko, Willoughby South High School (‘Buffalo Bill Cody’ in Annie Get Your Gun (Revival))

The Spirit of the Dazzle Awards
Sydney Montique, Mayfield High School

Best Actor
J.R. Heckman, Solon High School (‘The Beast’ in Beauty and the Beast)
J.R. won this category last year for his portrayal of Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden and in 2016 for his portrayal of Donkey in Shrek the Musical.

Best Actress
Margo Tipping, Walsh Jesuit High School (‘Mrs. Malloy’ in Hello, Dolly!)

The Connor Family Best Musical (Tier 1 – Budget less than $10,000)
Rocky River High School, Singin’ in the Rain
Rocky River has won this category for all four years of the Dazzle Awards.

The Connor Family Best Musical (Tier 2 – Budget $10,000 or more)
Solon High School, Beauty and the Beast

The Connor Family awarded $1000 to the recipients of The Connor Family Best Musical Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories, Rocky River and Solon High Schools, for use toward their next high school musical productions.

As recipients of the Best Actor and Actress Awards, J.R. Heckman (senior) and Margo Tipping (junior) will represent Northeast Ohio at The Jimmy Awards on June 24. Playhouse Square presented J.R. and Margo each with checks for $1500.

Public and private high schools located in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit Counties were invited to apply for participation in the Dazzle Awards. Information and applications for the 2020 Dazzle Awards will be available online at in late summer. 

Download photos here
Photo credits
Full list of 2019 nominees