Awarding Excellence in High School Musical Theater
Overture’s Tommy Awards program is an education initiative that honors and celebrates excellence in musical theater production among area high school students.
Musicals of participating schools are reviewed by a panel of educators, theater experts and industry professionals. Based on reviewers’ comments and tabulations, productions and individuals receive awards in specific categories at a ceremony held each year at Overture Center in June. The ceremony also features performances and production numbers from award winners in several categories.
Throughout the school year, Overture Center hosts Broadway workshops in acting, dance, music and stage combat for students to attend. All high school aged students are welcome to attend these workshops regardless of their high school's participation in the Tommy Awards program. For more information on these workshops, see our Making it on Broadway page.
Students interested in journalism, writing and/or the performing arts are encouraged to apply for the Student Critics Program. The program is a component of the Tommy Awards that aims to foster critical thinking and writing skills among area high school students. Participating students attend and review a selection of Broadway musicals at Overture Center. Prior to each show, the students attend workshops receiving instruction on writing critical reviews for live performances. These reviews may be published on Madison.com, overturecenter.com or in 77 Square.
The program began in the 2009/10 school year with 23 participating schools and 1 community theater. Approximately 350 students performed in the awards ceremony and over 90 awards were distributed. In our 2011-12 school year 43 schools and 1 community theater participated. Approximately 460 students performerd in the awards ceremony and over 100 awards were distributed.
The 2013 Tommy Awards Ceremony will be held on Sunday, June 16.
Highlights from 2011 Tommy Awards Ceremony - Act I
Highlights from 2011 Tommy Awards Ceremony - Act II
Check out Mark Frohna's photos from the 2011 ceremony
Name of Awards
Overture’s Tommy Awards are named in honor of local musical theater hero Tom Wopat, critically acclaimed and Tony Award-nominated singer and actor. Born in Lodi, Wisconsin, Tom first started singing and dancing in high school musicals, and studied music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before getting his "big break" in 1978 as Luke Duke in the immensely popular Dukes of Hazzard television show. He even directed several episodes during the show's six-year run.
After the series ended, Tom made his triumphant return to Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun and continued to appear on television, acting in shows like Cybill and Home Improvement, and hosting his own show on TNN/The Nashville Network. He also appeared as the lead in Chicago, and starred alongside Alan Alda, Jeffrey Tambor and Liev Schreiber in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.
Over the years, Tom has received several Tony nominations for his stage roles, including his role as Frank Butler opposite Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun, and as Tom Hurley in A Catered Affair. His most recent Brodway appearance was in Catch Me If You Can and Sondheim on Sondheim.
Tom is excited to lend his name and presense to Overture's awards program. "Between the influence of Don Roebuck at Lodi High School and my experience at the UW Summer Music Clinic, I feel that I was blessed, " he said."It's important to nurture and reward talent and hard work. I'm excited and honored to be associated with these awards."
The Tommy Awards are funded in part by Alliant Energy Foundation, CUNA Mutual Group, the A. Paul Jones Charitable Trust and contributions to Overture Center for the Arts. Additional support by Wisconsin Public Radio and The Onion and A.V. Club of Madison. Learn how you can be part of supporting Overture’s community and education programs at overturecenter.com/contribute.