High School Information

Ben Vereen Awards – National High School Musical Theatre Awards

The National High School Musical Awards is a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theatre that recognizes individual artistry in vocal, dance and actng performance.  NHSMTA impacts more than 50,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theatre competitions in their own region throughout the U.S.  A Best Actor and best Actress from each competition is sent to New York for a week-long theatre intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for their Broadway stage debut at the Jimmy Awards show where an esteemed panel of judges crowns the nations top performers.

Tucson high schools can compete in this competition by entering the Southern Arizona Ben Vereen Awards.   Organized by Broadway in Tucson and Arts Express, jurors (professional arts educators and theatre artists) will review each participating high school musical.  A selection of finalists will be selected to participate in the regional competition to be held in Tucson in early May (see schedule below).  The winners of the Ben Vereen Awards will go on to compete in New York.  All candidate’s expenses for the local and national competition are paid.

For the purposes of NHSMTA, an Approved Musical is one that:
(1) Held performances in a major New York City/Broadway theatre, professional regional, or touring theatre outside of New York City prior to being made available for licensing to the regional, amateur, or school theatre /circuit.
(2) Was originally conceived and produced for a core audience over eight years of age.
(3) Is officially available for a performance license by a high school from the licensing entity that manages such licenses on behalf of the rights holder for such musical.
(4) RAP officially licensed from the licensing entity that manages such licenses on behalf of the rights holder for such musical.
(5) Is the standard or school edition/version; The following editions/versions are not eligible: 101 Collection, Broadway Junior, G2K (Getting to Know Series), Young Performers Edition, and Young@Part. Concert versions are not permitted.
For the purposes of NHSMTA, a Qualifying Role in an Approved Musical is a role in which the character has a name, provides a vehicle for the actor or actress to demonstrate the ability to deliver the exceptional performance of a solo song and the ability to interact with other leading and featured performers in scenes and / or songs.
Unless identified as an “Ensemble Cast Musical,” an Approved Musical may have not more than six (6) Qualifying Roles. Such roles do not have to be evenly divided between genders.
For Approved Musicals with both a book and libretto, a Qualifying Role must, at minimum, include: (1) At least one solo, featured song (2) Appearances in more than one scene with spoken dialogue with other leading or featured performers (3) Appearances in both or all acts
For Approved Musicals with a libretto only, a Qualifying Role must, at minimum, include: (1) At least one solo, featured song (2) At least one song featuring solo lines or dialogue with other leading or featured performers in the same song (3) Appearances in both or all acts
Each September, in consultation with the major licensing houses, NHSMTA updates the list of Qualifying Roles and Approved Musical titles made available for high school licensing.
If your high school is producing a full length musical theater production that is not on the approved list, but you believe that it is a good fit for the competition, there is an appeals process for inclusion. Please contact Arts Express if this is the case.
To secure a place in the competition, the Teacher/Director must register below and pay the required $40 application fee. ONLY PRODUCTIONS SCHEDULED BEFORE APRIL 15, 2017 WILL BE CONSIDERED FOR THE 2016-17 BEN VEREEN AWARDS. A team of local judges representing the Ben Vereen Awards will attend a regularly scheduled performance of an approved musical theater production at participating high schools. Participating schools must provide up to 4 complementary tickets during their show’s run as requested. These will be used by a team of up to 4 judges and NHSMTA administrators. Ticket arrangements will be made in advance through the teacher/director. Arts Express will contact you to schedule the performance that they will be attending. Please have the box office place these tickets on hold at “Will Call.” Adjudicators will pick them up on the night of the performance.
The tally of the judges’ scores from these onsite adjudications will determine the student nominees that will move on to the Tucson Sing-Off and the high school winners for Best Musical, Best Director and Best Creative Elements. Student candidates are judged on performance elements such as poise, movement, voice, and acting. High Schools are judged on the quality of production values such as direction, casting, sets, lighting, choreography, costumes, orchestra, and crew.
Each high school is asked to submit photos for a montage at the competition and for program promotion (up to 10 photos).
October 1st – April 15th On-site adjudications of all registered, qualifying high school musicals. Performances scheduled after 4/15/17 will not be considered for the 2016-17 So. AZ BV Awards or for the NHSMTAs.
March 15th: Top 8-10 male and female actors from the October 1, 2016 – March 15, 2017 time period (a subtotal of 16-20 contestants).
Mar 18th – Apr 17th: Top male and female actors from the March 16th – April 15th period will be announced within 48 hours of their performance.
Mar 16th – Apr 20th: Within 72 hrs of announcement, the parent/guardian of each BV-So AZ contestant must sign paperwork giving permission and confirming availability of their student to compete on the local and national level. As part of registration process, the sheet music for 2 minute excerpts of Primary and Contrasting Songs, 50-word bio and headshot are due. Students also sign-up for individual coaching at this time.
Mar 16th – Apr 20th: Music for two group numbers will be sent out to BV-So AZ contestants as they register. Each student must learn the lyrics and music of the group numbers prior to the first group rehearsal on April 23rd.
COACHING: April 3rd – May 6th - Each Contestant will have one 1-hour individual session with a vocal coach (Mike Padilla) to finalize their primary and secondary song. In addition, each contestant will have one 1.5-hour small group session with vocal and acting coaches (Mike Padilla and Cathy Simon) to prepare for the competition.
April 15th: Program Introduction and Workshop #1 (9:00 – 12:00 noon): Mastering the Audition Process (Monte Ralstin)
April 22nd: Workshop #2 (9:00 – 12:00 noon): Inhabiting Character (Brooke Davis)
April 23rd (10:00 am – 2:30 pm)
April 30th (10:00 am – 2:30 pm)
May 4th (6:00 – 9:00 pm)
May 5th (5:00 – 9:00 pm)
May 6th (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) – during this rehearsal the 1-on-1 adjudication with judges of the Primary and Secondary Songs will be scheduled.
May 7th (9:00 am – 9:30 pm) – including competition (see below).
Southern Arizona Ben Vereen Awards will be Sunday 5/7 at 7:00 pm at the Fox Theatre.
May 8th – June 21st: The Southern Arizona Best Actress and Best Actor will each receive four 1 hour sessions with the vocal/acting coach to prepare for nationals.
June 21st - 26th: The top two contestants (one male and one female) from the regional contest will go to the national contest in NYC. The seventh annual National High School Musical Theater Awards will take place on Monday, June 26, 2017, at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. The program will also include a week-long theater intensive in New York City. All expenses are paid for the participants.
Each student advancing to the Ben Vereen-So AZ competition will be asked to sing a 2-minute excerpt (maximum) of one of their solo songs from their qualifying performance (Primary Song) and a contrasting musical theatre piece (Contrasting Song).
All contestants will sing their Primary and Contrasting Songs for their 1-on-1 auditions (to be scheduled during the May 5-8th period). In addition, all students will sing their Primary Song for the audience at the competition on Sunday, May 7th. After the performance of all Primary Songs, the top 6-10 will be announced (3-5 boys and 3-5 girls). Then, the top 6-10 will sing their Contrasting Song for the audience/adjudicators. Based on the cumulative scores, the winning Male Actor and Female Actor will be awarded (see scores below).
The BV-So AZ contestants will also perform 2 group numbers. Music for the group numbers will be sent as students register (Mar 16th – Apr 20th). Each student must learn the lyrics/music of the group numbers prior to their first rehearsal on April 23rd.
Each high school is asked to submit photos for a montage at the competition and for program promotion (up to 10 photos).  Photos should be of the highest possible quality, as they represent all your hard work and will be prominently displayed at the Fox Theatre!   Note: Schools should obtain media releases for all students featured. SUBMIT PHOTOS HERE
Criteria for Determining Top 6-10
30% On-Site Adjudication
15% Individual Adjudication – Primary Song
15% Individual Adjudication – Contrasting Song
40% Adjudication of Primary Song Performance
Criteria for Determining Best Actor and Best Actress
50% Total of Previous Adjudications
50% Adjudication of Contrasting Song Performance
In addition to the adjudicated scores, the Spirit of Ben Vereen Award (based on BV-So AZ contestant vote) and the Audience Choice Award (based on audience vote) will be awarded during the BV-So AZ competition.
(1) All high schools that produced qualified musicals in 2016-17 will be recognized during the BV-So AZ competition.
(2) High schools will be awarded Best Musical, Best Creative and Best Director based on their scores from the on-site adjudication process.


To secure a place in the competition, the Teacher/Director must register below and pay the required $40 application fee.