An exciting week lies ahead for Stephanie Ainsworth and Joey Myers, the high school musical theatre students who took home top honors in May in Starlight Theatre’s 2017 Blue Star Awards. In addition to winning the Blue Star Awards for Outstanding Actress and Actor in a Lead Role, Stephanie and Joey also won the opportunity to travel to New York City this summer to compete in the ninth annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSTMA) – and to represent their Kansas City-area peers.
Ainsworth, newly graduated from Blue Valley High School, won the Blue Star Award for her portrayal of Rose Alvarez in Bye Bye Birdie. Myers, also a new grad from Central High School in St. Joseph, was honored for his role as Edward Bloom in Big Fish.
The two left Kansas City on June 19, accompanied by Starlight education director Amy Reinert-Price, to make their mark on the Big Apple. They will be part of a contingent of 74 high school students from across the United States competing for the Jimmy® Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress, as well as other honors and scholarships.
“Stephanie and Joey are embarking on a journey that will be one of the most memorable of their lives,” Reinert-Price said. “They will learn and grow so much during this process, and we at Starlight are so proud to support them in this endeavor!”
Before the final awards ceremony takes place June 26 at the Minskoff Theatre, the students will prepare for their debut on a Broadway stage during a nine-day professional training intensive with NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio on Broadway faculty and other theatre professionals.
Like Ainsworth and Myers, students qualified to compete in the national program by winning top honors at regional high school musical theatre awards competitions presented by Broadway League member performing arts centers. More than 1,300 high schools and 50,000 students participate in these annual events. Since the inception of the NHSMTA in 2009, participating students have earned over $1 million in university and conservatory scholarships, and several have already been cast in Broadway, touring and West End productions.
The annual NHSMTA showcase culminates with the Jimmy Awards ceremony. This year’s event on June 26 is hosted by Ben Platt, who stars in the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen and recently won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his work. The judges’ panel comprises notable theatre professionals, including Tony Award-winning producers and award-winning casting experts.
Founded in 2009 by Nederlander Alliances LLC, Pittsburgh CLO, and Broadway Education Alliance, the NHSMTA’s mission is to raise the profile of musical theatre in schools, recognize dedicated teachers and inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts. Named in honor of James M. Nederlander, the late legendary Broadway producer and theatre owner, The Jimmy Awards are supported by many leading theatre industry organizations. Find more information at jimmyawards.com.
The Broadway League administers the program through The Broadway League Foundation, which acts as its philanthropic arm. Part of the Foundation’s mission is to enlighten and increase the public’s knowledge, appreciation and awareness of the theatrical arts.