jakub | June 30, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | High Schoolers Lauren A. Marchand, Langston Lee Win Top Jimmy Awards


Best Performance winners Lauren Marchand and Langston Lee perform at the 2023 Jimmy Awards. (Photos by Tricia Baron)

NEW YORK CITY: The 2023 National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA), also known as the Jimmy Awards, were presented on Thurs. at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. The 14th annual showcase, hosted by Corbin Bleu, featured performances by 96 nominees from 48 regional awards programs making their debuts on a Broadway stage. This year a total of 20 awards and scholarships were presented to participants.

The Jimmy Awards for Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor were presented to Lauren A. Marchand of New York (The Roger Rees Award) and Langston Lee of Austin (Heller Awards for Young Artists). Both winners received $25,000 to further their education.

The six best performance finalists, who each received a $3,000 scholarship, include Samia Posadas (The Monte Awards) of Tucson, Ariz.; Omar Andre Real (The Lucie Arnaz Awards) of Palm Springs, Calif.; Corbin Drew Ross (Broadway Dallas High School Musical Theatre Awards), Maya Sharma (Kravis Center Dream Awards) of West Palm Beach, Fla., Christian Strong (CAPA Marquee Awards) of Columbus, Ohio; and Anna Wright (St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards).

Presented by the Broadway League Foundation Inc., the NHSMTA invites one Best Actress and one Best Actor nominee from each local regional ceremony to New York City for a weeklong theatre intensive that includes coaching sessions, training, and rehearsals led by industry professionals in preparation for the talent showcase. Rehearsals and private coaching took place at The Juilliard School. The industry coaches who mentored the nominees included Jenni Barber, Max Chernin, Maryann Hu, Adam Kantor, Telly Leung, Howard McGillin, and Desi Oakley.

Additional category winners each received a $2,000 scholarship. Sophi Keller (Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards) of Logan won Best Dancer, presented by MJ The Musical for excellence in dance and movement; Gage Williams (St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards) won Rising Star, presented by The John Gore Organization for impressive advancement during the Jimmy Awards program; Samantha A. Nelson (Applause Awards) of Orlando, Fla. won Best Performance in an Ensemble, presented by The Shubert Organization for outstanding collaboration during the Jimmy Awards program; and Omar Andre Real won Spirit of the Jimmys, presented by Thomas Schumacher and Disney Theatrical Group for embodying the spirit of this musical theatre celebration.

Semifinalist scholarships, co-presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment, went to Croix Baker (Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards) of Des Moines; Steven Dao (Nebraska High School Theater Academy) of Omaha; Jackson Manning (Philadelphia Independence Awards); Carly Mikula (The Jerry Awards) of Madison, Wisc.; Mia Nelson (Spotlight Education) of Minneapolis; Annie Sardouk (Broadway Star of the Future) of Tampa, Fla.; Ayden Weinstein (The Kenny Awards) of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Makenzie Woolridge (Tommy Tune Awards) of Houston. The Inspiring Teacher Award, presented by Wells Fargo, was presented to Vanessa Lock Gelinas of Oakton High School in Vienna, Va.

Judges for the 2023 Jimmy Awards included Tony Award-winning producers, award-winning casting experts, and industry leaders such as Khady Kamara, Joe Machota, Alecia Parker, T. Oliver Reid, Tara Rubin, Nick Scandalios, Thomas Schumacher, Bernie Telsey, and Sergio Trujillo.

Founded in 2009 by Nederlander Alliances LLC, Pittsburgh CLO, and Broadway Education Alliance (BEA), the mission of the The Jimmy Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards is to raise the profile of musical theatre in schools, honor dedicated teachers, and inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts. The NHSMTA program impacts 140,000 students who participate in nearly 50 regional high musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of touring Broadway productions throughout the United States. Named for Broadway producer James M. Nederlander, the program has been the catalyst for more than $6 million in educational scholarships.

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