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 best actor and 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. Tony Award winner Ben Platt is hosting the 2017 Jimmy Awards.

Hatty KingPhoto: Those Morgans Photography

How does the program work? Area high schools are invited to submit one musical per school year. TPAC/Lipscomb then sends three 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, Miles Aubrey, Erica Aubrey, and American Idol performer Melinda Doolittle.

The program seeks to recognize exemplary work of all participating schools. Awards include best actor, best actress, best show, best direction, best choreography, best musical direction, best designs, all-star cast and crew, and much more. 

For more information, please email

Spotlight AwardsPhoto: Chris Netterville


Registration window: August 1 - September 15, 2017. All applicants must complete registration and payment within this window to secure a spot in the 2017-2018 Spotlight Awards.

Cost: $250

The window for performances to be adjudicated: October 4, 2017 - April 22, 2018

We will accept applications until we are at capacity. The top ten schools from the previous year are invited to apply first, then it becomes open registration. Each school is allowed 40 students to attend the workshops. Each school will be allowed a maximum of 10 adult chaperones for the workshops.  

All registered schools will be invited to attend the ceremony. Tickets to the ceremony will be provided for all students and chaperones (up to 40 per school) who are registered by March 1. Any additional seats may be purchased via TPAC's ticketing site. Any school wishing to apply for a sponsorship may inquire at

Nominees will be announced May 1, 2018.

Workshop/Awards day will be Saturday, May 12, 2018.


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 by Sept. 15 to the following address:

Lipscomb University Department of Theatre c/o Kari Smith
One University Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37204

Enter Now

Once we receive your completed registration, we will coordinate a team of adjudicators to view one of your performances. 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, we will compile the critiques and scores from each show to determine the awards for the festival. We will require each school to complete additional registration information by March 1.  Each school will receive more information on additional registration and the specific details of the workshop/awards day. 

Spotlight AwardsPhoto: Chris Netterville

Sample 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 
  • 1:00-1:50 p.m.—Workshop Session 3
  • 2:00-2:50 p.m.Workshop Session 4
  • 3:00-3:30 p.m. -- Sound check for finalists
  • 3:30-5:10 p.m. --Sound check for Top 10 Schools
  • 6:00 p.m.—Schools arrive and seat at TPAC
  • 6:30 p.m. --Doors open to public
  • 7:00 p.m.Awards Ceremony begins

Sample Workshops 

Masterclass with Host:
Come ready to work on material with this year’s Nashville Musical Theatre Award’s host. Bring a 32 bar cut of a song you’d like to workshop and receive constructive feedback on your performance from a seasoned professional.

Improvisational acting/sketch comedy:
This workshop will challenge you to think on your feet and stretch your abilities through scene work, games, and exercises. These skills are necessary for all types of performers and will taught by Nashville’s best! Bring clothes you can move in and a willingness to try new things.

Students will learn a short but fast paced dance combo and experience what it is like to go to a professional dance call. Multiple dance styles will be offered from local professional dancers and choreographers. No prior dance experience required. Dress in something that you can move in, and wear jazz shoes if you have them.

Technical Theatre/Design:
Explore how to be a part of the storytelling whether you are on or off stage in this hands-on workshop. Great for tech students as well as for actors who want to build stronger ties with crew members and learn what life is like from the booth and wings. Learn lingo and the basic training for soundboards, light boards and more from experienced technical theatre artists.

Have an audition coming up? Do you want feedback on your audition package? This workshop will explore the entire audition process. Expect to learn useful, constructive, and candid insight on everything from: acting a song, headshots and resumes, audition attire, entering a room, song choices, working with accompanists, and more. If students are interesting in participating they must prepare one 16 bar cut of a song within their key. They must also bring a headshot and resume for review. This workshop is especially helpful for all who are planning on auditioning for any type of production or college program in the near future.

Cold Readings:
Calling all students interested in film and TV work! This is the workshop for you! Learn what a typical film audition looks like through exploring the art of mastering cold reads. Students will be given scripts and will take part in a mock audition where they will also receive immediate feedback. All levels of experience welcome.

Stage Combat:

Many plays and musicals require fight choreography, so it's important for students and teachers to seek training for safety and success. Plus it's a ton of fun! Students will learn various skills and techniques, putting together a sequence of moves. This has been a wildly successful workshop the past few years; you don't want to miss it.