Yesterday, December 5, The not-for-profit Clive Barnes Foundation announced Rent's MJ Rodriguez the winner of the 2011 award, which celebrates the work of young dancers and actors. The ceremony was held at The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.
The award was presented by 2010 Clive Barnes Award recipient and Tony Award Nominee Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur, Born Yesterday), and dance legend Frederic Franklin. The event was hosted by Michael Riedel with additional words by Valerie Taylor Barnes.
The 2011 Finalists for Theatre included Annaleigh Ashford (RENT), Tony Award Nominee Jennifer Damiano (Spiderman: Turn off the Dark), and Joseph Grisetti (Enter Laughing).
The 2011 Finalists for Dance included Isabella Boylston (American Ballet Theatre), Barrington Hinds (Stephen Petronio Company), Natalie Mackessy (Stephen Petronio Company), and Michael Novak (Paul Taylor Dance Company).
MJ Rodriguez is a graduate of Arts High School and is 20 years of age. He started pursuing his career at the age of 11 when he joined the Summer Youth Performance Workshop at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Since then MJ is an eight year veteran of NJPAC, and also participated in their program New Jersey Youth Theater (NJYT). He has performed in shows such as Dreamgirls, The Pajama Game, Once on This Island, and as well as given vocal performances for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Camp Broadway, and for the Boston Celtics Gala. Michael attends Berklee College of Music, and is the 2009 Star-Ledger Scholarship recipient, and the 2009 Young Arts first level scholarship recipient.
To catch MJ in Rent, visit www.siteforrent.com.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski
Michael Riedel, Frederic Franklin, Isabella Boylston
Clive Barnes Award Finalists
Frederic Franklin, Isabella Boylston, MJ Rodriguez, Nina Arianda