As part of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts’ 50th-anniversary celebration, the nonprofit organization has invited 10 high schools to compete in its inaugural CAPA Marquee Awards program that will conclude June 3 during a showcase event at the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St. in Columbus.

The program is designed to recognize and celebrate musical theater talent in central Ohio.

Amy Handra, CAPA’s director of education, said applications were open in September for any private, public or charter school in a seven-county radius to participate in the Marquee Awards program, as well as free classes and workshops.

The first 10 schools that applied and met the requirements were accepted into the program, which is expected to expand in the future, Handra said.

The 10 pilot high schools are Watterson, Dublin Jerome, Eastmoor Academy, Groveport Madison, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy Orange, Pickerington North, Thomas Worthington, Westerville Central and Westerville South.

The CAPA Marquee Awards is a feeder program into the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards, for more than 100,000 high school students who participate in musical-theater competitions sponsored by presenters of touring Broadway productions throughout the U.S.

To participate, Handra said, the high schools must have produced an eligible musical.

Westerville South theater director Matt Wolfe said the school’s recent production of “Catch Me If You Can” had five approved roles for the competition.

“What I love about this program is the platform that it creates for high school theater,” he said. “Celebrating excellence at such a large scale will bring awareness and respect to high school theater that is often overlooked, giving students, many of whom would like to pursue theater in college and beyond, a chance to compete outside of their school and get a taste for theater at the next level.”

Handra said three adjudicators visited high school productions and submitted scores for each contest category from Jan. 10 to April 28.

“The adjudicators would watch the shows and score,” she said. “They also provided feedback for the production as a whole and individuals.”

During the CAPA Marquee Awards, a showcase will include live performances from the nominees for Best Musical Production, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role and opening and closing numbers that incorporate nominated students from all participating high schools.

The nominees in the 10 categories of the CAPA Marquee Awards are:

• Outstanding Student Orchestra – Dublin Jerome, “Into the Woods”; Hilliard Darby, “Young Frankenstein”; and Thomas Worthington High School, “Children of Eden.”

• Backstage Excellence – senior production team, Watterson, “The Addams Family”; technical run crew, Dublin Jerome, “Into the Woods”; production crew, Hilliard Darby, “Young Frankenstein”; set and stage crew, Olentangy Orange, “Seussical”; and technicians, Westerville South, “Catch Me If You Can.”

• Outstanding Technical Achievement – Henry Brandstaetter, Pickerington North, stage management, “Mamma Mia!”; Avery Caiazza, Olentangy Orange, props design, “Seussical”; Mandy Flanagan, Watterson, lighting design, “The Addams Family”; Kyra Hanes, Dublin Jerome, costume design, “Into the Woods”; Grace Mayo, Dublin Jerome, scenic design, “Into the Woods”; and Caitlin O’Brien, Dublin Jerome, stage management, “Into the Woods.”

• Outstanding Ensemble – Dublin Jerome, “Into the Woods”; Eastmoor Academy, “Rent”; Pickerington North, “Mamma Mia!”; Thomas Worthington, “Children of Eden”; and Westerville South, “Catch Me If You Can.”

• Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Ethan Embi, Dublin Jerome, the Mysterious Man in “Into the Woods”; Mikey Masciola, Olentangy Orange, JoJo in “Seussical”; David Moir, Dublin Jerome, Cinderella’s Prince in “Into the Woods”; Wyatt Rider, Pickerington North, Bill Austin in “Mamma Mia!”; and Kieran York, Watterson, Lurch in “The Addams Family.”

• Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Izzy Adams, Dublin Jerome, Jack’s Mother in “Into the Woods”; Caroline Darling, Thomas Worthington, Eve in “Children of Eden”; Julia Mazurek, Dublin Jerome, Cinderella’s Stepmother in “Into the Woods”; Grace Niekamp, Dublin Jerome, Rapunzel’s Prince in “Into the Woods”; and Sophia Reza, Olentangy Orange, Sour Kangaroo in “Seussical.”

• Best Direction – Seth Harms, Eastmoor Academy, “Rent”; Liz O’Dorisio, Watterson, “The Addams Family”; Justin Nawman, Thomas Worthington, “Children of Eden”; Cathy Swain-Abrams, Olentangy Orange, “Seussical”; and Matt Wolfe, Westerville South, “Catch Me If You Can.”

• Best Musical Production – Eastmoor Academy, “Rent”; Olentangy Orange, “Seussical”; Pickerington North, “Mamma Mia!”; Thomas Worthington, “Children of Eden”; and Westerville South, “Catch Me If You Can.”

• Best Actress in a Leading Role – Bella Eberhardt, Pickerington North, Donna in “Mamma Mia!”; Nana Eshun, Eastmoor Academy, Joanne Jefferson in “Rent”; Maeve Gallagher, Dublin Jerome, Cinderella in “Into the Woods”; Ava Gellegani, Dublin Jerome, Little Red in “Into the Woods”; and Emma Murphy, Westerville South, Brenda Strong in “Catch Me If You Can.”

• Best Actor in a Leading Role – Marshawn Clodfelter, Eastmoor Academy, Angel Dumott Schunard in “Rent”; Jeremy Hardjono, Olentangy Orange, Horton the Elephant in “Seussical”; Ian Hoffman, Olentangy Orange, the Cat in the Hat in “Seussical”; Caleb Jingo, Westerville South, Carl Hanratty in “Catch Me If You Can”; and Oliver Runyon, Westerville South, Frank Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can.”

Winners will be announced June 3 and will be given a crystal Marquee Award, Handra said.

Because of limited seating capacity in the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St. in Columbus, ticket availability to the public is uncertain, she said. If tickets are available, they will be announced online at and may be purchased by calling 614-469-0939 starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 29, she said.

Students selected as Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role will be designated as Jimmy Award nominees and will receive a CAPA-sponsored trip to attend “Jimmys Week” in New York City for a nine-day professional training with theater professionals and industry experts. They also will compete on the national level for the 2019 Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor and the 2019 Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress.

Handra said the competition is just one part of the program.

Musical-theater students from participating high schools were provided opportunities throughout the year to attend free master classes with the casts of national touring productions, including “Rent” and “Aladdin,” and they participated in workshops for dancing, singing and acting.

“For me as an educational director, it helps provide resources to improve and fill in the gaps where they don’t have as many resources,” Handra said. “We started in the fall and had the cast of ‘Aladdin’ in October. We had the educational opportunities right away.”

Cathy Swain-Abrams, Olentangy Orange theater director, said some of her students attended the classes.

“It’s fun to have some way to get recognition,” she said. “We do quality theater. It’s no secret that high school theater isn’t recognized much compared to areas like sports.”

Swain-Abrams said professionals providing feedback to the students is a great benefit.

Wolfe said the Marquee Awards are new to Columbus and it is the 10th year for the Jimmy Awards, so it is still new to the scene. But it certainly should add a sense of excitement to local musicals that hasn’t been there in the past, he said.

“It has motivated us to go out and watch theater from other schools and support other theater troupes around central Ohio,” he said. “I am grateful to the CAPA organization and Amy Handra for their efforts to lift our students and their talents on their shoulders.

“I am also grateful for the camaraderie between the 10 participating schools and their directors.”

Handra said the Jimmy Awards is an incredible program, and CAPA leaders thought the 50th anniversary would be a good time to engage.

“We thought about what we could do to celebrate high school theater,” Handra said. “This program is a wonderful way to do this. We’re committed to education. We thought we’d use the 50th year as a platform to start. It will be the first of many years.”