Applause Awards

Celebrate Central Florida's most talented students.

Recognizing everyone from set and costume designers to lead actors and actresses, the Applause Awards is a true celebration of all things musical theater. Honoring excellence in high school productions is just the beginning. This program also advocates for the importance of the arts by impacting students across our community. Through the Applause Awards, they receive valuable feedback and enjoy amazing learning opportunities—like master classes led by touring Broadway artists and performance training workshops—giving them a space to work with their peers and sharpen their skills.

So here’s how the program works: August through April, industry experts review registered productions from more than 30 schools in seven Central Florida counties. Their detailed reviews are then used to determine awards in specific categories, and Dr. Phillips Center hosts a ceremony in June on the Walt Disney Theater stage. Modeled after the Tony Awards®, this high-energy evening includes a performance by almost 500 participating students—plus performances by the nominees for lead actor, lead actress and best musicals.

But it gets even better. Every year, one lead actor and one lead actress from the Applause Awards go on to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA)—also known as The Jimmy® Awards—in New York City. This year, our very own Tony Moreno and Sofia Deler had quite the unforgettable experience, each bringing home a well-deserved Jimmy.

View list of the 2018 Applause Awards recipients.


Tony Moreno and Sofia Deler, two Orange County high school students from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’s Applause Awards program won awards for Best Actor and Best Actress on Monday evening at The Jimmy® Awards in New York City.

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