JCHS Student Earns Spot At Competitive Summer Musical Theatre Program

James Caldwell High School (JCHS) junior Mollie DeFilippo loves to act and sing, and those talents earned her a spot this year as one of only seven students nominated for an Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards Program.

Created in 1996 to encourage and reward exceptional accomplishments in the production of high school musical theatre, the Rising Star Awards, presented by the Investors Foundation, is a statewide competition of New Jersey high school musicals modeled after Broadway’s Tony Awards.

DeFilippo was nominated for her performance last spring in the West Caldwell school’s rendition of “Seussical the Musical” as Gertrude McFuzz, friend and admirer of Horton the Elephant, who believes that Horton will find her more interesting if she had more than a one-feather tail.

“This is quite an honor for one of our students, and we couldn’t agree more with the committee’s selection of Mollie as a finalist,” said Principal Jim Devlin. “The show was bright, colorful and entertaining, and Mollie certainly contributed that.”

DeFilippo found out about her nomination on Mon., May 9, when Paper Mill Playhouse and HomeTowne Television – Your Neighborhood Network announced the nominations for the 2016 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards presented by the Investors Bank Foundation.

The awards are presented for outstanding achievement by students and educators in the areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, technical production and overall production excellence. This is the second time a JCHS production received a nomination. They were nominated and awarded the Educational Impact Award in 2014.

“These awards are not easy to earn,” said musical director Kerry Baglivio. “Simply being nominated is a huge achievement and honor. So, earning two nominations in three years is quite impressive. Mollie should be very proud of her nomination.”

The Rising Star Award Corps of Evaluators is comprised of theater professionals, performing artists, designers, and theater arts educators. More than 100 student productions from high schools across the state are reviewed for nominations, and the Tony Awards-style Rising Star Awards Gala Ceremony is presented on the Paper Mill stage. Award-winners are presented with an engraved crystal award from Tiffany & Co.

Four $1,000 cash awards are presented to outstanding individual students who plan to continue studying theatre or technical theatre in college. A fifth cash scholarship of $1,000 is awarded in memoriam of Rising Star Nominee Douglas Michael Krueger.

DeFilippo did not win her category, but as a final nominee in the lead acting category, she did win a scholarship to Paper Mill Playhouse’s competitive Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, a professional training program which along with advanced classes in singing, acting and dance. Nominees perform on the Paper Mill stage during the annual New Voices Concert.

“Mollie will continue to make us proud this summer and we can’t wait to see her on the stage again,” added Devlin. “And, there’s always next year.”

For additional information on the Rising Star Awards, or to receive application information, contact 973-315-1668.

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