Dr. Phillips Center Presents

2024 Applause Awards Ceremony

June 1, 2024 | Walt Disney Theater | 7 p.m.

2024 Applause Awards Ceremony

June 1, 2024 | Walt Disney Theater | 7 p.m.

58 productions. 37 high schools. 1 incredible night.

A panel of 18 casting agents, show directors and industry professionals selected nearly 300 students from 37 high schools across ten counties to participate in this high-energy evening – featuring live performances by the winning casts in the Outstanding Musical category, character medleys by the winning Outstanding Lead Performers and much more!

Modeled after the Tony Awards®, the tenth annual Applause Awardsy will be directed by Broadway veteran Ray Roderick and hosted by Broadway star and Central Florida native Michael James Scott, alongside former Applause Awards winners Samantha Nelson and Jackson Chase.

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be given to college-bound seniors. Two overall winners will advance to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, known as The Jimmy Awards®, for an opportunity of a lifetime to represent Orlando while competing among the next generation of Broadway stars in New York City this summer.

The Applause Awards’ Impact

The arts center has awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships through Applause Awards to date. Five previous winners and finalists have even gone on to make their Broadway or Hollywood debut:

Tony MorenoBook of Mormon, Broadway

Applause Awards & Jimmy Award Winner, Best Actor (2017)

Sofia DelerThe Prom, Netflix Premiere

Applause Awards & Jimmy Award Winner, Best Actress (2017)

John ZamborskyJesus Christ Superstar, National Tour (2024); CATS, North American Tour (2023)

Applause Awards Winner, Best Actor (2018)

Jimmy Award Winner, Outstanding Dancer (2018)

Miguel GilKimberly Akimbo, Broadway

Applause Awards Winner, Best Actor (2021)

Over the years, the event has also drawn the talents of world-renowned directors and hosts – including Shoshanna Bean, LaChanze, Michael James Scott and Rachel York.

You Can Play a Part, Too – Help Sustain the Applause Awards

Make a donation to the Dr. Phillips Center’s Applause Awards initiatives, and you’ll help ensure access to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students across the region. Recognizing everyone from set and costume designers to lead actors and actresses, the Applause Awards advocates for the importance of the arts by creating access for students and schools in our community.

Through the Applause Awards students 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.

Get in touch with a gift officer today to find out how your contribution can make an impact on this incredible program: Development@drphillipscenter.org.


2024 Applause Awards

Ray Roderick — Director

Ray Roderick (writer/director/choreographer) is thrilled to be back at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Applause Awards! Ray recently directed La Bamba! A New Dance Musical for Peacock Theatre in London's West End and UK tour. He adapted the Broadway script for Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang for the 1st US national tour (director), UK tour and Australian tour. He wrote and directed 'S Wonderful! The New Gershwin Musical, which toured the US. He has recently written the book and lyrics for Brooklyn’s Bridge, A New Musical, and directed the premiere production at Montclair State University. He was associate director of A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden for six years, where he was privileged to work with original director Mike Ockrent. He was also associate director for Susan Stroman's Broadway revival of The Music Man, and subsequently directed the successful three-year North American Tour. He co-wrote/directed/choreographed Irving Berlin's I Love a Piano three-year national tour of the US and Japan.

Ray was the founding artistic director of Tri-State Center for the Arts, where he remained at the helm for seven years. For The Denver Center of the Performing Arts, Ray has directed and choreographed First Date, The Last Five Years, The Taffetas, Five Course Love, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! (Denver's longest running show). Ray begins his 24th year as creative director for the United States Tennis Association's US Open, where he writes and directs Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day television show for ABC, and creates on-court entertainment and ceremonies for ESPN.

As a Broadway performer, Ray was seen in many shows, including Barnum, starring Jim Dale and Glenn Close, and originated roles in Grind, Cats, The Wind in the Willows, Crazy for You, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Nathan Lane and Whoopi Goldberg.

Lauren Langa – Music Director

Lauren Langa has been performing and teaching voice for over 20 years. She attended Florida State University for her undergraduate studies where she majored in both vocal performance and choral music education, and she holds a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Each year, her high school students consistently earn spots in the country’s leading top music theatre, classical voice, and commercial music programs such as Carnegie Mellon University, Florida State University, Penn State University, Shenandoah University, University of Michigan, Texas State University and many more! Additionally, many of her students have been selected as the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Applause Awards representatives for the Jimmy Awards, including Sofia Deler who was named the national winner in 2017.

In addition to her high school students, her professional students can be seen on Broadway and in tv and film in projects like The Prom (movie), the Emmy Award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC, the Tony Award-winning Kimberly Akimbo (Broadway), Here Lies Love (Broadway), A Beautiful Noise (Broadway), Bad Cinderella (Broadway), MJ: The Musical (Broadway), The Outsiders (Broadway), Stereophonic (Broadway), Mean Girls (Broadway and National Tour), SIX (Broadway and National Tour), Spamalot (Broadway revival), among many others.

Lauren specializes not only in voice science and vocal pedagogy, but also in contemporary styles and extended techniques. Her expertise in current industry standards and trends, in addition to music theatre and commercial music repertoire, gives her the tools necessary in guiding her students through both their collegiate and professional paths. Beyond consulting her private students on their various projects, Lauren also proudly serves on the voice faculty at Rollins College, as the voice consultant for Orlando Sings, and as artistic director of the pre-professional group, the Four Counts, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Michael James Scott — Celebrity Host

Michael James Scott has played the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin internationally including Broadway, London, the North American Tour, and originating the role in the Australian Production for which he won the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He’s also known for originating the role of the Minstrel on Broadway in Something Rotten and originating Dr. Gotswana (aka The Maggots Guy) in The Book of Mormon. Other Broadway: Hair, Tarzan, Mamma Mia, Elf, and All Shook Up. New York: Jerry Springer the Opera at Carnegie Hall. Tours: Fosse. Las Vegas: Jersey Boys. Various recordings including The Broadway Boys and Broadway original cast albums, along with numerous TV appearances.

Samantha Nelson — Alumni Co-Host

Samantha is excited to be back in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with the Applause Awards! She is the previous female “outstanding lead” winner; 2 years in a row. She is a 2x Jimmy Award Nominee. She went on to win “Best Performance in an Ensemble” at the Jimmy Awards. Since she graduated, she has been pursuing her BFA: Musical Theatre at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. She is ecstatic to be back in the sunshine state and host for the Applause Awards. She wishes all of those performing so much luck! And she would like to thank her family for their endless support. Follow her Instagram @samanthanelsonnnn for updates on her future endeavors!

Jackson Chase — Alumni Co-Host

Jackson Chase is honored to be back in O-Town at the Applause Awards, this time as a co-host! For the past 2 years he has had the distinct pleasure of attending the Applause Awards as an Outstanding Lead Performer for his roles of Nick Bottom in Something Rotten and Edward Bloom in Big Fish. In 2022 Jackson was given the honor of attending the NHSMTA Jimmy Awards where he spent the week learning from and training with professionals and received a scholarship for “Best Performance in an Ensemble”. Since graduating Lake Nona High School he has gone on to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. While at Shenandoah University he has been fortunate enough to be cast in several SU productions including Rent (Mark) and Spring Awakening (Georg). He is so thankful to the DPC and the Applause Awards for giving him a space to grow and truly appreciate what a special thing it is we get to do in the theater!


Prices, shows, artists, dates and times are subject to change at any time without notice. The views and opinions expressed within this show are those of the artist(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dr. Phillips Center.

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