May 23, 2022

Playhouse Square Holds 2022 Dazzle Awards presented by Pat and John Chapman

With the aim of recognizing the importance of musical theater and arts education in Northeast Ohio high schools, Playhouse Square proudly held the annual Dazzle Awards presented by Pat and John Chapman on Saturday, May 21. 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 Connor Gallagher. With less than a week to rehearse, nearly 200 students performed in fully choreographed opening and closing numbers. The closing number was the debut of “A Chance to Shine,” an original song with music and lyrics by Music Director Joel Mercier for the Dazzle Awards. Each school nominated in the 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 the program’s technical apprenticeship, two students – Emma Boring of Archbishop Hoban High School and Jacob Layton of Eastlake North High School - 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. One of the student reporters, Daishanay Williams of Willoughby South High School, is now a finalist in The Jimmy Awards Student Reporter Search. Visit @JimmyAwards on Facebook and Instagram to like, comment and share Daishanay’s video before May 27 to help her be chosen to cover The Jimmy Awards.

Throughout the evening, Dazzle Awards were presented to outstanding musical theater productions and students in 13 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 Jada-Lynn Pledger of Akron School for the Arts at Firestone CLC.  

Playhouse Square also recognized the musical director from each participating school as an “Arts Champion” with a special Dazzle Award in honor of their dedication, leadership and perseverance.

The 2022 Dazzle Awards recipients are:

Best Student Orchestra
Hudson High School, Chicago (School Edition)

Best Technical Execution
Rocky River High School, Young Frankenstein
Solon High School, We Will Rock You (School Edition)
Solon also won this category in 2018.

Best Scenic Design
Solon High School, We Will Rock You (School Edition)
Solon also won this category in 2016, 2018 and 2019. 

Best Costume Design
Avon Lake High School, Matilda The Musical

Best Choreography Execution
Magnificat High School, Mary Poppins 
Magnificat also won this category in 2017.

Best Ensemble/Chorus
Magnificat High School, Mary Poppins 
Magnificat also won this category in 2017.

Best Supporting Actor
Max Lucic, Rocky River High School (‘The Monster’ in Young Frankenstein)

Best Supporting Actress
Julia Martin, Archbishop Hoban High School (‘Dragon / Sugar Plum Fairy’ in Shrek The Musical)

The Spirit of the Dazzle Awards
Jada-Lynn Pledger, Akron School for the Arts at Firestone CLC

Best Actor
Daniel Blum, Mayfield High School

Best Actress
Gabi Ilg, Medina High School

(Note: This year, the Best Actor and Best Actress were selected through an audition process.)

Best Musical (Tier 1 – Budget less than $12,000)
Rocky River High School, Young Frankenstein
Rocky River has won this category in each year it has been awarded. (This category was not awarded in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19.)

Best Musical (Tier 2 – Budget $12,000 or more)
Magnificat High School, Mary Poppins 

The winners of the Best Musical Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories, Rocky River and Magnificat High Schools, each received a $1000 award for use toward their next high school musical productions.

As recipients of the Best Actor and Actress Awards, Daniel Blum (senior) and Gabi Ilg (senior) will represent Northeast Ohio at The Jimmy Awards on June 27. Playhouse Square presented Daniel and Gabi each with checks for $1500. Travel to The Jimmy Awards is made possible by a gift from The Weisenberg Family Broadway National High School Musical Theatre Awards Fund.

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 2023 Dazzle Awards will be available online at in late summer. 

The largest performing arts center in the country outside of New York, the not-for-profit Playhouse Square is Northeast Ohio’s destination for Broadway and more great entertainment. Playhouse Square is a champion of arts education and downtown Cleveland, and proud to be the home of Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance, DANCECleveland, Great Lakes Theater and Tri-C JazzFest.

The Jimmy Awards®/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA®) program impacts more than 140,000 students who participate in 46 regional high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of touring Broadway productions throughout the United States. Named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, the program has been the catalyst for more than $5,000,000 in educational scholarships. Presented by The Broadway League Foundation, the NHSMTA invites one Best Actress and one Best Actor nominee from each local regional ceremony to New York City for a week-long theatre intensive that includes coaching, training, and rehearsing led by some of Broadway’s most accomplished professionals. Nominees will spend one week in New York City from Monday, June 20, 2022, through Tuesday, June 28, 2022, and their combined efforts throughout the week will lead to one extraordinary talent showcase performed live in front of an audience on a Broadway stage. The thirteenth annual Jimmy Awards will take place on Monday, June 27, 2022, at the Minskoff Theatre. For more information, please visit