Wednesday, July 3, 2013

“A Lovely Night” at the 5th Annual Jimmy™ Awards

From the moment the curtain rose on the Minskoff stage, it was an astounding night! Making their Broadway debut, the 62 best actors and actresses from all over the country wowed the audience with the opening Broadway medley. The Tony® Award-nominated hosts from Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Laura Osnes (Cinderella) and Santino Fontana (the Prince), added a magical spark to the night.

The first group of actors took to the stage starting the medleys off on a great note. Next, a group of actresses sang about their troubles with men. The audience loved the medley of Bakers from Into the Woods, after all “It Takes Five.” Then it was back to school with the Olive Ostrovskys who shared their love of books with Belle and Jo March, among others. With the next medley of actors, you could definitely sense “A Brotherhood of Man.” The divas then took control of the stage followed by the final medley of actors bringing down the house and closing Act I.

During intermission, a panel of judges met to deliberate over their selection for the Jimmy™ Award finalists. The panel of Broadway brass included Scott Ellis (Roundabout Theatre Company); Kent Gash (New Studio on Broadway, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama); Tony® Award-nominee Montego Glover (Memphis); Rachel Hoffman (Telsey +Co); Alecia Parker (NAMCO); Nick Scandalios (Nederlander Organization); and Bernie Telsey (Telsey + Co).

All of the nominees returned to the stage to hear the announcement of the finalists. There were cheers and hugs all around as names were called for Michael Burrell of The Childress M.A.C.Y. Awards; Jillian Caillouette of Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards; Austin Crute of Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards-Shuler Hensley Awards; Martha Hellerman of The Tommy Awards; Sarah Lynn Marion of John Raitt Awards for Youth (JRAY); Eva Maria Noblezada of The Blumey Awards; and Taylor Varga of Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards.
Sarah Lynn Marion & Taylor Varga

After performing their solos, all seven contenders rose from center stage and it was time to announce the winners. The Award for Best Performance by an Actress went to Sarah Lynn Marion, from Huntington Beach High School Academy for the Performing Arts, representing the John Raitt Awards for Youth (JRAY). The Award for Best Performance by an Actor went to Taylor Varga, from Newtown High School, representing Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards. The winners both gave heartwarming speeches thanking their family, friends, and mentors who guided them along the way.

We cannot forget about three additional awards presented to Billy Krager of The Tommy Awards (Best Performance in an Ensemble), Jillian Caillouette of Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards (Most Improved), and Brian Baylor of Ovation Awards (Spirit of the Jimmy Awards).  Another student, McKenzie Kurtz from Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards-Shuler Hensley Awards; was selected to attend Carnegie Mellon University's 6-week Pre-College Drama program.

It’s been an incredible journey from the minute everyone arrived in New York to the sad good-byes this morning. Everyone has had a chance to grow and learn while creating lifelong friendships. We hope to see some of you back on Broadway some day!

Want to see more photos highlighting the week’s events? Visit our Flickr page! 
Have your own photos or memories from NHSMTA? Share them with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tonight Won’t Be Just Any Night

The 5th Annual Jimmy™ Awards are tonight! Between rehearsals and solo coaching and special guest visits, the last few days have flown by! Be sure to visit our Twitter where we’ve been live-Tweeting the events and preview tonight’s show with our PlaybillVIP.

During a special lunch talkback sponsored by Music Theatre International, Tony-nominated songwriter Benj Pasek talked about his journey and experiences. The nominees had a chance to ask questions and were excited to meet one of the Tony-nominated songwriters for the Broadway musical A Christmas Story, the NBC TV series Smash, and the Off-Broadway musical Dogfight.

Songwriter Benj Pasek Talking to NHSMTA Nominees

Throughout the last few days, each nominee had a chance to work one-on-one with our NYC faculty coaches – Michael McElroy, Liz Callaway, Schele Williams-Kleinberger, Telly Leung and Leslie Odom, Jr.  Drawing upon their professional Broadway experience, the coaches helped the nominees achieve the next level, working on everything from vocals to stage presence.

Liz Callaway and Telly Leung Coach Nominees on their Solos

Last night, the nominees had a chance to perform their solos and group numbers for the judges. You could feel the nervous excitement in the air as each nominee stepped up to sing the solo he or she had been working on. The judges were blown away by the amount of talent brought by this year’s nominees.

Congratulations to all of the nominees – you’ve made it to the Broadway stage! We cannot wait to see everything come together tonight at the Minskoff. Break a leg everyone!