Encore Michigan

Wharton Center Institute names Sutton Foster Award Winners

News May 22, 2023 David Kiley

EAST LANSING, MI — Jillian Armstrong from Milford High School and Mark Bonney from Detroit School of Arts were named Outstanding Performers in a Leading Role at the 11th annual Sutton Foster Awards at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre on Sunday, May 21. The award, named in honor of Michigan’s own Broadway star, Sutton Foster, is a celebration of outstanding achievement in individual artistry, vocal, dance, and acting performance for two leads in a high school musical theatre production. Jillian and Mark were two of the 116 high school drama students from across Michigan to compete for th­e award.

Jillian and Mark will head to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards—otherwise known as the Jimmy™ Awards—on June 26, 2023, hosted this year by Broadway performer Corbin Bleu, who is also known for his role in Disney’s Emmy Award-winning High School Musical franchise.

The six other finalists chosen are Mack McCloud from Romeo High School, Delayne Hengesbach from Grand Ledge High School, Elle Michaels from Walled Lake Northern High School, Drey’von Simmons from Interlochen, Avery Nienhuis from Rockford High School, and Mark Simons from Interlochen. All eight finalists, including the 2023 Outstanding Performers in a Leading Role, will each receive $1,000 cash.

Also honored this year is John Klak from Mt. Pleasant High School with the Excellence in Musical Theatre Education Award. The award honors the educator’s and the school’s commitment to excellence in performing arts education.

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The Sutton Foster Awards is a part of Wharton Center Institute for Arts & Creativity, supported by MSU Federal Credit Union, Piper & Gold Public Relations, with additional support from Nancy Passanante.

For more information on Wharton Center’s Sutton Foster Awards, visit www.whartoncenter.com.