Nominees announced for Ben Vereen awards; student health initiative winners named

Broadway/San Diego has announced the 2015 Ben Vereen Awards San Diego nominees in the categories of Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Musical Production, and the five individual and one school winners of the inaugural Student Health Initiative.

The Ben Vereen Awards, produced by Broadway/San Diego, celebrates excellence in local high school musical theater.

The competition will take place at 5 p.m. April 26 at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., San Diego, hosted by CBS News 8 anchor Barbara-Lee Edwards and sponsored by San Diego County Credit Union. Twenty of San Diego’s finest student performers will compete to be in the Top Ten representing San Diego at the Southwest Region Competition Finals (which includes San Diego County and Tucson high schools) in Tucson, Ariz., on May 24.

The winning Best Actor and Best Actress performers from the Southwest Region will be flown to New York on an all expenses paid week of intensive training before they compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (known as The Jimmy Awards) on June 29 for the opportunity to win $10,000 towards a college scholarship.

Stage and screen entertainer Ben Vereen will attend the San Diego event and present this year’s new category, the Student Health Initiative/Wellness Through the Arts Contest.

All San Diego County high school students were invited to submit an essay on “The Moment I Changed My Life For The Better.” The focus was on key topics of obesity, diabetes, low self-esteem or bullying, submitted in written or video format. The top five individual winners each receive a $500 award, and the winning school will earn a $1,000 cash award, provided by San Diego County Credit Union. Their work will be represented at the San Diego competition.

“I am so pleased to be working with Broadway/San Diego and the community again this year on something that’s dear to my heart,” said Vereen, “helping our young people to change their lives for the better through the performing arts. I wanted each student to tell me what ‘Their Best Day’ was in dealing with their most challenging issue and, most importantly, how they used the arts to make a difference.”

Vereen will teach a private master class to the San Diego semifinalists and the SHI winners on “Competition Sunday,” and afterwards will greet VIP patrons at a pre-show reception before the April 26 competition. For tickets, call 619-570-1100 or visit

The 2015 Ben Vereen Awards Individual nominees:

Best Actor

Ben Desoto Mayor — Pacific Ridge High School

David Batchman — Chula Vista High School

Jonah Duhe — El Camino High School

Justin Haupt — Cathedral Catholic High School

Michael Voegele — San Diego School for the Creative & Performing Arts

Nathan Wetter — La Jolla High School

Remy Reya — La Jolla Country Day School

Sam Brogadir — San Diego School for the Creative & Performing Arts

Shane Bushouer — Mira Mesa High School

Steve Macario — Canyon Crest Academy

Best Actress

Brooke Patterson — Canyon Crest Academy

Caroline Carlson — Coronado High School

Caroline Lezny — Francis Parker High School

Catherine Ames — Pacific Ridge High School

Catherine Lynch — Rancho Buena Vista High School

Grace Marshall — Rancho Buena Vista High School

Mackenzie Scott — Rancho Buena Vista High School

Emma Wineman — La Jolla High School

Ruby Ross — Francis Parker High School

Tina LaMar — Cathedral Catholic High School

Nominees for Best Musical Production

Canyon Crest Academy for “Evita”

Cathedral Catholic High School for “Hello, Dolly!”

Francis Parker School for “Chicago”

San Diego School for the Creative and Performing Arts for “Rent”

Rancho Buena Vista for “9 to 5”

Winners of the Student Health Initiative Essay Contest/Wellness Through The Arts, “The Moment I Changed My Life for the Better/ My Best Day”

Amber Young, Chula Vista High School — Video

Carly Stacey, Point Loma High School — Written

Emily Armstrong, Clairemont High School — Written

Madeleine Fossler, Christian High School — Written

Molly Hafer, San Diego School for the Creative and Performing Arts — Written

Winning High School Theatre Department Video Essay

San Diego School for the Creative and Performing Arts