See performances of the top musical theatre students from across Southern Arizona WATCH A STAR BEING BORN! Winning Contestants go to Nationals in New York

The Monte Awards are a division of the The National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA), a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theater that recognizes individual artistry in vocal, dance and acting performance, and honors teachers and their schools’ commitment to performing arts education. The 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 regional 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 high school performers. The Jimmy is named for legendary Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander, or “Jimmy” as he is known on Broadway.

Arts Express partners with Broadway in Tucson to bring the National High School Musical Theatre Awards to Tucson!

The Monte Awards – High School Musical Theatre Finals, is a unique scholarship competition for talented high school musical theater performers. Two talented students from Southern Arizona will be crowned Best Actor and Best Actress and go on to compete at The National High School Musical Theater Awards (The ‘Jimmy Awards’) at a Broadway Theatre in New York each June. The top prize is $10,000 towards a college scholarship!


Carousel - Feb 28th - March 8th

The Monte Awards - May 9th

Let Freedom Sing - July 4th

West Side Story - July 11th – 12th

Sweeney Todd - Oct 16th – 25th

Fox Theatre

Local High School Musical Theatre Awards Program named in honor of beloved Teacher, Director, and Mentor, Monte Ralstin.

“Art may be beautiful, ugly or bold – but never selfish.”  - Monte Ralstin

TUCSON-Broadway in Tucson and Arts Express recently announced a change to the local National High School Musical Theatre Awards program, the Tucson Starlight Awards,now to be called The Monte Awards: Southern Arizona’s Musical Theatre Finals.Monte Ralstin passed away at the age of 66 on January 22, leaving a legacy of dedication to excellence in performing arts education. Over the last five years,Monte played a significant role in the development of the awards program, serving as an adjudicator, vocal coach and then Host and Director of the Awards program as recently as last year

Sunday, May 10th at 6:30 pm


17 W Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701


Premium Reserved: $40 Per Person

General:  $20 Adult  •  $10 Student/Children

Or call (520) 319-0400


Ironwood Ridge High School - Curtains

Vista Grande High School - Little Shop of Horrors

More Coming Soon!

Photos from 2016, 17, and 18 productions of The Monte Awards

Meet the Directors

Chris Will, Director

Chris Will has been directing, teaching and performing musicals all around the world for the past 19 years,  including two Off-Broadway shows (Time Being and The Jungle Queen Debutante). He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming in Theatre & Dance and continued his education in the United Kingdom, earning his Masters of Performance in Musical Theatre from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and received an MFA in directing form the University of Idaho. Chris Will is excited to start working full time as the theater professor at Pima Community College.

Mike Padilla, Music Director

A native of Tucson, Mike has entertained and worked in Tucson, San Francisco and Japan as a cabaret entertainer, pianist, singer, actor, musical director and teacher.  He spent 17 years in San Francisco where he studied acting/singing at Studio ACT and the SF Academy of Performing Arts where he was mentored by Richard Nickol.  As an actor he has played Archie & Dr Craven in The Secret Garden, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Dr Parker in Bay Boy, Cladwell in Urinetowne to name a few.  Locally, He’s done musical direction for the Invisible Theatre, SALOC, The Gaslight, The Great American Playhouse, UofA’s Arizona Repertory Theatre, Arts Express and CYT. He has been the vocal coach/music director for The Monte  Awards (Tucson Starlight Awards) the last 4 years as well as ATC’s Summer on Stage. Mike was an instructor at the UofA School of theatre for 4 years serving as the staff pianist, vocal coach and musical director. Mike is a member of NATS (Nat’l. Assoc. of Teachers of Singing) and maintains a private voice studio.

Simone Jolivet Manuel, Choreographer

Simone Jolivet-Manuel, a member of that rare breed of Tucsonans actually born in Tucson. She received her BA from Northern Arizona University and her M.Ed in Elementary Education. Simone began dancing at the age of 7, she continued training over the years with workshops and conventions across the country with high-end choreographers - Savion Glover, Mandy Moore, Paula Abdul, JT Hornstein, Denise Leitner and many others. Currently Simone is in her 13th year at Salpointe Catholic High School and 2nd year choreographing for Arts Express. Simone’s professional achievements include work with Salpointe Pomline, Dance Force-1 Productions, Gaslight Theater and Danswest Productions and the 2001, 2005 and 2009 Link Cotillions. She thanks her husband Scot, children Lincoln and Maxine and her mother, for their support and love.