Freddy Awards

Freddy Awards

For 16 years now, the State Theater Center for the Arts invites the best and brightest stars from area high schools to participate in a single night of friendly competition and stunning performances.

The Freddy©Awards Program is as much about a celebration of hard work, camaraderie, and community for its participants as it is about entertainment. Each year, roughly 30 schools from Northampton, Lehigh, and Warren County come together to share top hits from the year’s student productions and claim recognition for excellence in musical theater.

Students meet in a single grand hall to showcase their talent. Since the program started, a generation of kids later, the bar continues to rise. In the beginning, some schools were unsure about the decision to make the program a competitive event, but its created innovation and led to performances that are more and more ambitious, elaborate, and skillful year over year. Audiences have responded and attendance continues to grow.

In 2002 theatre Executive Producer Shelly Brown learned of similar Tony-style awards shows for high schools around the country, notably the statewide Rising Star Awards in New Jersey. Eager to offer the Lehigh Valley its own version, she used her history as a television producer to take the idea a step further and created a partnership to WFMZ Channel 69 to televise the production live.

The show is entirely different every year. New performances, new sets, and a new cast of eager young talent take the stage. “It’s just gotten to be this live, wonderful, unscripted thing that people can watch. And their kids are in it, and their friends, and their neighbors,” Brown says. “Even if they don’t have kids of their own in it, they just watch and say, ‘Look at these wonderful kids. Isn’t this fantastic?’ To see the performers so excited for one another, all this heart and soul the kids have, it’s just fun. It’s the original feel-good thing to watch.”

Schools work really hard with the resources they have to make the show fantastic. Brown says when she began developing the program she was concerned that schools with the most resources and largest budgets would win every year, and that’s not proven to be the case. Great performances come from hard work, preparation and heart, not expensive or extravagant sets and costumes. Some schools have only a gymnasium to perform in while others have big theaters, but it’s the soul put into the shows that makes the difference.

For many years, Louis E. Dierfuff High School in Allentown didn’t have the resources to produce a musical, but recently resuscitated their theatre program to participate in the Freddy© Awards. After only a few years they won outstanding production two years running, a first in the program’s history.

What people see the night of the event is just the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 3,000 people participate in Freddy-related school programs each year. And, from evaluating each schools’ production to coordinating their physical arrival to organizing the 100 or so crew members needed to produce the show, work behind the scenes is a huge undertaking.

While only a fraction of the thousands of students who perform or participate in the Freddy© Awards program may yearn for a career in theater, it’s still said to be an event they’ll remember and cherish forever. Since its inception, over $1 million dollars in scholarships, internships, and community awards from the program have helped students progress into the next stage of their lives.


Jordan Grubb, Easton
Currently in Groundhog Day and will be performing at this year’s Tony Awards

Matt Moisey, Southern Lehigh
Featured in Fiddler on the Roof in 2016 and performed at the Tony’s

Ryan O’Connell, Saucon Valley
Currently, the Music Director for the new Broadway musical Ernest Shackleton Loves Me

Adam Hyman, Belvidere HS
Currently in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway

The 2018 Freddy© Awards airs live on 69 WFMZ-TV and at 7 PM on May 24th.  The State Theatre advertises all local high school productions, and ticket sales support student endeavors. To support education for the arts and this program contact the theatre at 1-800-999-STATE or visit

The State

Designed by architect William H. Lee and built in 1925, the State Theatre on Northampton Street in Easton replaced the small Neumeyer Theatre in 1925.

Threatened with demolition in the early 1980s, a group of concerned citizens calling themselves “Friends of the State Theatre” raised enough money to buy the theatre and established it as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, the organization continues their incredible commitment to our community and sets the standard for high-quality arts and entertainment in the region.

The Freddy© Awards are named after J. “Fred” Osterstock, the legendary “Fred the Ghost” of the State Theatre, who managed the company that owned the theatre from 1936 until his death in 1957.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram