A shocked Haley Raffaele is announced Best Lead Female at the ASU Gammage High School Music Theatre Awards on Saturday night. [Raquel Hendrickson]

Haley Raffaele, a newly-minted graduate of Maricopa High and veteran of theater at the school, stole the spotlight on Saturday night.

She became the first Maricopa student to win the Best Lead Female award at the ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards (HSMTA) celebration, beating out nine other finalists.

Reached Tuesday, Raffaele said the award – and its $500 prize – came as a surprise.

“It was definitely a shocking moment,” she said. “I had convinced myself it would never happen in a million years, yet here we are!”

ASU Gammage HSTMA, a regional program of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, known as the Jimmy Awards, recognizes and celebrates Valley high school students and faculty that produce musical theater programs. Schools are judged in 14 performance and tech categories during the year.

Raffaele had lead roles in Maricopa High’s spring and fall musicals, “She Loves Me!” and “Bright Star,” respectively. On Saturday night, she and other MHS students performed a number from “Bright Star,” a semifinalist for HSTMA Best Musical.

She and HSMTA Best Lead Male, Tre Moore from ASU Prep, become automatic nominees for the national Jimmy Awards, which are like Tony awards for high school theater. They will go to New York City in late June to participate in that show and train with Broadway professionals.

In a story about 2022 graduates from Maricopa high schools in the May issue of InMaricopa magazine, Raffaele discussed her four years of dedication to theatrical performance.

Haley Raffaele sings a number from Maricopa High’s fall musical, “Bright Star,” at the ASU Gammage High School Music Theatre Awards on Saturday night. [Raquel Hendrickson]
“Whether I help others enter the world of theater or attempt to pursue professional performance, I am doing what I love, and high school has taught me that this pursuit is the most imperative to my happiness and success,” she said.

She is no stranger to theater accolades, winning musical theater performance awards and scholarships at the annual International Thespian Festival.

Raffaele is headed to a summer internship in fashion marketing at Grand Lake Lodge, near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

In the fall, Raffaele will begin theater studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.