By Tom Tolen /

According to Brighton High School Choir Director Phil Johnson, Brighton High School Musical Theater has received the 2022 Sutton Foster Ovation Award for “Best Set Design” for the show "Wizard of Oz". BHS was one of 38 high schools around Michigan which participated in the competition. This is the second Ovation Award Brighton has received, the first being “Best Musical” in 2017 for "Honeymoon in Vegas".

The set designer for Wizard of Oz, which was performed in February at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts, was Josh Holowicki. The set build team lead and design engineer was Jim Young, while the set finishing team leads were Tammy Hoebecke and Rebecca Robinett.

Johnson says the show was also honored to have two of its cast members nominated for “Best Actor in a Musical”. Ellie Stark was nominated for her work as Dorothy, and Morgan Wiljanen was nominated for her portrayal of The Cowardly Lion. Johnson says both students were, in his words, “fabulous in the show, and even better in their performances at the Sutton Foster Awards." Johnson also gives credit to Ken Balazovich, who is the manager of the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts, where the show was staged.

Johnson , who was music director for the show, recently was given the honor of being the 2022 SSAA High School State Honors Choir Director. He also received a nomination for the 2019 Teacher of the Year through the Michigan School Vocal Music Association. The versatile Johnson likewise sings with the Professional a Cappella group, TBD a Cappella, whose debut album “The Answer’s 42” won the 2021 Contemporary a Cappella Recording Award for “Best Post-Collegiate Album”.

Pictured, right: Wizard of Oz music director Phil Johnson accepting the Sutton Foster Ovation Award for “Best Set Design” from Wharton Center Representative Ben English on behalf of the Brighton Musical Theater team.