The local arm of the National High School Musical Theater Awards has a new name: Monte Awards.

The competition, previously called the Tucson Starlight Awards, was named to honor Monte Ralstin, who passed away early this year. Ralstin, who taught voice at the University of Arizona, was instrumental in helping prepare the students for the competition.

“Monte was a true inspiration to students and to all of us in the theater community and beyond,” says Karen Wiese in a press release. Wiese is executive director of Arts Express, which sponsors the event with Broadway in Tucson. “He truly loved the theater and he exuded that passion in his work.”

The awards show, slated for 7 p.m. on May 18 at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., includes scenes from musicals presented by area high schools. At the end of the show, a Best Actor and Best Actress are named, and the two are then sent to New York. There, they will compete for the national titles, but first comes a week-long theater intensive that includes coaching and rehearsals.

Competing locally are students from Basis Tucson North (“Into the Woods”); Canyon del Oro High School (“Little Women”); Catalina Foothills High School (“Hello Dolly!”); Cienega High School (“Aida”); Desert Christian High School (“The King and I”); Empire High School (“Legally Blonde”); Flowing Wells High School (“Newsies”); The Gregory School (“Into the Woods”); Ironwood Ridge High School (“Mamma Mia!”); Palo Verde High Magnet School (“Peter Pan”); Rincon/ University high schools (“Oklahoma!”); Sabino High School (“Little Shop of Horrors”); Salpointe Catholic High School (“Footloose”), and Casa Grande’s Vista Grande High School (“Mamma Mia!”).

General admission tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and children. Reserved seating is $40. Get them at or

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar


Kathleen has covered the arts for the Star for 20 years. Previously, she covered business, news and features for the Tucson Citizen. A near-native of Tucson, she is continually amazed about the Old Pueblo's arts scene and feels lucky to be covering it.