They didn’t have these awards when I was in high school!

For those of you on the new social networking site, Four Square (I know, I know…another social networking site), you’ll notice that I checked in to the Marquis Theater last Monday for the second annual National High School Musical Theater Awards.

What are they?  Take the Tonys, shrink ’em, add a little Miss America and a dash of American Idol and you’ve got . . . The Jimmies!

What else do you have?

One thrilling night of incredible entertainment that made every single person in that audience believe in the power of the theater.

Over 50,000 students at almost 1,000 high schools across the country compete for the Jimmies.  Just like the aforementioned beauty pageant, there are regional awards that qualify performers to move on to the finals here in New York City.

And that’s where the real fun stuff happens.

Those 44 finalists spend a week in the city studying with vocal coaches, learning an opening and closing number, and hearing from Broadway professionals about what it’s like working in our biz.

The week ends with a performance . . . on the stage of The Marquis Theater, in front of some of the biggest names on Broadway.  And yes, these are teenagers. It’s like Broadway Fantasy Camp!

The show itself featured a medley of solos by each of the contestants. (Highlights for me were:  Matt Hill’s ‘Great Big Stuff’ from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Andrea Weinzierl’s Mame and Elise Vannerson belting out ‘Nobody’s Side’ from Chess). The judges (including Memphis star Montego Glover, Casting Directors Bernie Telsey and Rachel Hoffman, Exec. Producer of Chicago Alecia Parker, Director Scott Ellis, Nick Scandalios (aka #8), and Kent Gash from my alma mater’s new musical theater program) narrowed the field down to 3 female and 4 male finalists (there was a tie for the guys).

We got to see each finalist perform a complete number, and then the judges chose the winners!

This year’s Jimmies (which were named for the patriarch of the Nederlander family and the patriarch of this program, James M. Nederlander) were awarded to . . . Alexandria Payne from Atlanta and Kyle Selig of California.

In addition to a fine looking trophy and a shot at a 4-year NYU scholarship, the winners were each surprised with a $10,000 check towards their tuition.

Congratulations to the winners, and congratulations to the Nederlander Organization and Van Kaplan’s Pittsburgh CLO (where this idea began) for providing these kids, and all of us, with an opportunity of a lifetime.

They got to see New York City.  We got to see the future.

And it looks awesome.

For more info on The Jimmies, including how you can get involved, click here. For photos from BroadwayStars.com, click here.

And mark my blog, in less than five years, this thing is going to be huge . . . and so is the impact it will have on developing new audiences for the future.

And that’s even more awesome.

(Oh, and yes, it’s true, they certainly didn’t have these awards when I was in high school.  But that’s just fine with me, because this talented crop would have kicked my Billy Crocker-ed butt!)

Comments
  • Who said that the youth of today was a bunch of lazy @$*h who only play computer games and rely on the state. Not me…

  • I’ve been chatting with a young actor-friend who was the winner of the Metropolitan Helen Hayes award, and thus a performer at the Jimmies. He is still raving about the experience – a highlight in his young and promising career. Congratulations, Josh Skurnik!

  • Becca says:

    sounds like an amazing opportunity for the students! I’d love to see the same kind of thing available to students in design, production, and stage management. perhaps a sort of larger Unifieds, with awards?

  • jhr0292@hotmail.com says:

    “The Cappies” is a high school critics and theatre awards program. Very big in the Washington DC area. Along with many other charters. http://www.cappies.com
    I was a cappie nominee and critic in high school, it’s a great program.

  • Nathan C. says:

    Wouldn’t it be cool if they put something like that on TV? Like Ken said, it combines the format of a lot of popular talent/variety shows with a little Glee spirit and the dreams of talented young people. It could certainly give the Tony’s a run for their money, viewership-wise.

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