The Marquee Awards are dedicated to supporting the talents, education, and opportunities of high school theater students in East Tennessee to build a strong and inclusive theater community.

The program consists of three pieces:

  • Adjudication - A panel of knowledgeable theater lovers attend each school’s musical and provide feedback on the performance.
  • Nomination - Schools and individuals receive awards that honor achievements in performance, technical and creative categories, at an Awards Ceremony held at the Tennessee Theatre. Some nominees will also have the opportunity to perform at the Awards Ceremony.
  • Education - Partnering with Clarence Brown Theatre, nominees will participate in a day of workshops and masterclasses led by University of Tennessee artists and professors before attending the Awards Ceremony. Participating schools will also be the first to know about additional educational opportunities such as masterclasses and workshops.

The Tennessee Theatre’s membership in The Broadway League allows the two Marquee Award Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress winners to attend The Jimmy Awards®, a national celebration of outstanding student achievement, recognizing individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performance and elevating the importance of theater arts education in schools.

For more information about awards categories, adjudication rubrics, rules and regulations, and more, please visit the FAQs below. If you still have questions, please contact Mary Adkins

We are thankful to the following Partners

Tennessee Arts Commission

Arts & Culture Alliance

Knox County

Clarence Brown Theatre

Dept of Treasury

Interested in becoming a partner? Contact Nicki Collett for more information about sponsoring or supporting this event!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules and regulations?

Rules and regulations can be found here or in the Participation Handbook linked above.

What categories will there be?

In addition to the required Outstanding Overall Musical, Outstanding Lead Actress, and Outstanding Lead Actor, we will nominate students for a variety of categories recognizing their accomplishments in performing, backstage work, set design, costume design, and more. View a full list of categories here or in the Participation Handbook linked above.

Are there any costs for schools or students to participate?

This program will be completely free for schools and students to participate. However, schools and/or students will be responsible for transportation and some meals on the ceremony day.

What if my school doesn't have a theater program?

At this time, only schools presenting full-length musicals on the Qualifying Shows and Roles List are able to participate.

Does our school have to perform a certain show to participate?

Each year, the National High School Musical Theatre Awards release a list of Qualifying Shows and Roles. While this list is updated each year, typically shows are added rather than removed. We will update the list for the 2025 Awards as soon as it is released. Please note that your show must be adjudicated by Friday, April 25, 2025.

How will the shows be adjudicated?

To keep the competition fair, judges are selected from outside resources and are not staff members of the hosting theater or organization. This provides a wonderful opportunity to encourage involvement from other cultural and educational institutions within our region. Our judges include educators (not high school level), theater professionals, board members, and other community members with a knowledge of and interest in musical theater. The commitment of these volunteers provides the schools with invaluable feedback about their performances, which can help them to improve each year.

The objective of this independent panel of judges is to provide a fair analysis of each school's performance, determine nominees and select winners in each category. Each judge will use a Scoring Rubric to evaluate shows.

How do the outstanding lead actor and actress nominations work?

One finalist from each school will be chosen in the categories of Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress and will participate in a second round of adjudication. These finalists must have performed roles from the National High School Musical Theatre Awards list of eligible shows and roles. At this audition, finalists will sing 32 bars from the eligible role that they performed during their school’s musical, as well as participate in a dance call for our panel of judges.

My school is not located in Knoxville. Are we still eligible to participate?

Schools within a 2-hour driving distance of the Tennessee Theatre are eligible for participation. If you are not located within this radius, you can find other participating regional programs.

What if I have other questions?

If you have any other questions regarding The Marquee Awards, please contact Mary Adkins at