Spotlight Awards

High school performers on stage

TPAC and Lipscomb University will modify the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards program for the 2020-21 school year, including a hiatus for all in-person events and the Spotlight Awards ceremony. Student participation will focus on audition submissions, virtual workshops, and online learning. Read more in our News Center.

Spotlight Awards, presented with Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment and the Arts, are dedicated to honoring the talents, friendship, and educational endeavors of high school theatre students in Middle Tennessee. Prior to partnering with TPAC, Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment & the Arts offered the opportunity on its campus for three years.

Every year, Middle and Eastern Tennessee high schools presenting a musical may apply to participate in the awards. High school musicals are evaluated by a diverse panel of adjudicators, and in May, the program culminates with all student participants invited to a day of workshops taught by industry professionals at Lipscomb University. That evening, exemplary work is recognized with the Spotlight Awards ceremony at TPAC, where the top 10 contenders for “Outstanding Musical” perform songs from their productions. Honors are presented in a variety of categories including vocals, dance, design, direction, and technical theatre, as well as an All-Star cast with students nominated from each school. The winners of the awards for “Outstanding Lead Actor” and “Outstanding Lead Actress” move on to national consideration for The Jimmy Awards® in New York.

TPAC’s membership in The Broadway League, the national industry trade association, allows the Nashville winners to advance to the national competition, The Jimmy Awards, honoring the most talented high school actors and actresses from across the nation. The students participate in a challenging 10-day stretch of workshops conducted by leading American theatre artists. They also rehearse musical numbers together in preparation for their performances at the closing ceremony, which is named in honor of James M. Nederlander, a legendary Broadway theater owner and producer.