Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards

SPOTLIGHT AWARDS in partnership with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center

The Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, or the "Spotlight Awards," has been a huge success since its inception in 2013. The mission of this program is to unite high school musical theatre programs in Nashville and its surrounding counties, offering adjudication, special workshops, and an exceptional awards ceremony. In 2016, Lipscomb University's Department of Theatre and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) collaborated to develop and host the event together, securing one of the most unique partnerships in Nashville. Thousands of high school students have participated in the exciting program, and in May 2017, the awards ceremony moved to TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall, the largest performance stage in Tennessee. Thanks to TPAC's membership in the Broadway League, the Spotlight Awards can send the qualifying outstanding lead actor and outstanding lead actress to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards or the "Jimmy Awards." This is a fun-filled and challenging ten day event each June featuring the most talented high school actors from all over the country working with the best of Broadway.

Hatty King
Photo: Those Morgans Photography

How does the program work? Area high schools are invited to submit one musical per school year. TPAC/Lipscomb then sends several adjudicators, including theatre professionals and Lipscomb University faculty, to view one of their performances. Each May, all participating schools are invited to Lipscomb’s campus for a day of workshops taught by industry professionals, and then to an awards ceremony at TPAC hosted by a special guest. Past hosts have included Broadway performers Chuck Wagner, Elizabeth A. Davis, Miles Aubrey, Erica Aubrey, and American Idol performer Melinda Doolittle.

Award Categories

School Awards: Outstanding Vocals, Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Hair and Makeup Design, Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Set Design, Outstanding Orchestra, Outstanding Technical Elements, Outstanding Design Concept, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Musical

Individual Awards: Outstanding Male Dancer, Outstanding Female Dancer, Outstanding Male Soloist, Outstanding Female Soloist, Outstanding Ensemble Actor, Outstanding Ensemble Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actor, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Comedic Actor, Outstanding Comedic Actress, Outstanding Dramatic Actor, Outstanding Dramatic Actress, Outstanding Lead Actor, Outstanding Lead Actress, All-Star Cast, All-Star Crew, Student Choice Spirit Award

Spotlight Awards
Photo: Chris Netterville


Cost: $250 per school.

Registration window: Closed due to full capacity.

New for 2018-2019: If your school was one of the Top 10 schools for Best Show last year, you have a spot held for you for the 1st week of registration.  If you have not turned in your application by Wednesday, August 8, you will then be able to apply on a first-come, first-served basis with other schools. We will accept applications until we are at capacity. 

Each school is allowed up to 40 students to attend the workshops. All registered schools will be invited to attend the ceremony. Tickets to the ceremony will be provided for up to 40 per school. Any additional seats may be purchased via TPAC's ticketing site.

Mandatory School Orientation – All participating schools are required to send at least one person to this meeting (Director preferred, but if not available another adult from the school will need to attend).  This meeting will happen at TPAC on October 2, 2018 from 4:30-7:00 p.m.

Window for performances to be adjudicated: November 1, 2018-April 20, 2019.

Nominees will be announced April 26, 2019.

Workshop/Awards day will be Saturday, May 11, 2019.


To enter, please complete the online registration and payment. This is the preferred registration, but if you wish to send a check for payment, please first fill out the registration form online, and then mail a check made out to Lipscomb University Theatre to the following address:

Lipscomb University Department of Theatre c/o Beki Baker
One University Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37204

Participation Guide

Once we receive your completed registration, we will coordinate a team of adjudicators to view one of your performances. All adjudicators receive special training hosted by TPAC to ensure as equitable and balanced a process as possible. They will each have a rubric that will be the scoring for the show. Their completed rubric will be sent to you after the performance. At the end of the school year, TPAC and Lipscomb will compile the critiques and scores from each show to determine the awards. Each school will receive more information on additional registration and the specific details of the workshop/awards day.

Workshop/Ceremony Itinerary

  • 8:30-9:00 a.m.—Registration
  • 9:00-9:30 a.m.—Welcome in Collins Auditorium
  • 9:30-10:20 a.m.—Workshop Session 1
  • 10:30-11:20 a.m.—Workshop Session 2
  • 11:30 a.m-1:00 p.m—Lunch (Food Trucks)
  • 1:00-1:50 p.m.—Workshop Session 3
  • 2:00-2:50 p.m.—Workshop Session 4
  • 2:30-3:15 p.m.—Sound check for finalists
  • 3:15-5:15 p.m.—Sound check for Top 10 Schools
  • 6:00 p.m.—Schools arrive and are seated at TPAC
  • 6:20 p.m.—School welcome from TPAC
  • 6:30 p.m.—Doors open to the public
  • 7:00-10:00p.m.—Awards Ceremony
Spotlight Awards
Photo: Chris Netterville