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Cherished Houston theater awards show for young stars twirls to virtual affair

Houston theater awards show for young stars twirls to virtual affair

TUTS 16th Annual Tommy Tune Awards
The beloved Tommy Tune Awards is pivoting this year. Photo by Melissa Taylor

The horrendous year that was 2020 may have passed, but its effects are still being felt. To that end, a cherished local event put on by Theatre Under the Stars celebrating Houston’s talented young performers is pivoting to a virtual offering this year.

Dubbed the TUTS High School Musical Theatre Celebration, this new event replaces the beloved and annual Tommy Tune Awards program and show, which will not take place this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

The livestreamed event will take place on May 16 on the TUTS Spotlight Webcast, according to a press release. To participate, TUTS is inviting students to submit a video highlighting an innovative way they’ve found to create musical theater art throughout the pandemic, per a release.

Songs must be either an original work or, if it is an existing song in the musical theater canon, performed with piano accompaniment, or a capella. Videos must be between 90 seconds and two minutes in length, and must be submitted by Sunday, March 31. Submissions will be featured on the TUTS Facebook page from April to May.

“Since most schools are unable to produce shows right now, we wanted to find a way to continue to celebrate high school musical theatre,” said Israel Jimenez, TUTS’ director of community engagement. “We’re so excited to honor the creativity and resilience of Houston’s talented students.”

Launched in 2002, the Tommy Tune Awards celebrate musical theater productions in Houston-area schools. The annual awards program traditionally sends industry professionals, serving as adjudicators, to attend the participating high school musical theatre productions, per TUTS. Students compete in multiple categories related to performance and production skills.Ceremonies usually are held at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, allowing nominated schools to perform segments of their productions for a packed house of enthusiastic students, arts educators, families, and arts supporters.

Last May, the event was moved online, where more than 2,300 people viewed the show on Facebook and YouTube.