The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA), a.k.a. The Jimmy Awards, is an annual event that celebrates the top talent from high schools across the country. Hosted by Tony Award-winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), the 2019 ceremony took place at New York City’s Minskoff Theatre on Monday, June 24, following a week of intensive rehearsals with leading industry professionals.
Thanks to the generosity of Southwest Airlines, two of Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Award winners had the opportunity to travel to New York City and participate in the 2019 Jimmy’s. At the Blue Star Awards on May 23, Sam Aubuchon won the Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role category for his portrayal of Terry in Side Show. Janie Carr was honored with the Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role Blue Star Award for her role as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Following the Blue Star Awards Ceremony, Aubuchon and Carr worked with Starlight’s education & outreach department select audition songs, record audition videos and finalize headshots for NHSMTA. Upon arriving in New York City, the pair met their 84 fellow nominees, as well as their Broadway-industry mentors for the week—Aubuchon was paired with Randy Graff, who originated the role of Fantine in Les Miserables, and Carr was paired with Telly Leung, who most recently starred as the title role in Aladdin on Broadway. Immediately, the group dove into rehearsals and workshops to prepare for Monday’s ceremony.
Between the long rehearsal hours, nominees were treated to a few exclusive experiences, including dinner at the legendary theatre-district restaurant Sardi’s—where the walls are lined with hundreds of Broadway and celebrity caricatures. Following dinner, Aubuchon and Carr got a bit of a surprise while walking through Times Square, when they spotted their headshots on a billboard in the heart of New York City.
“It was an absolutely unreal experience,” Aubuchon told BroadwayWorld. “As we were standing in the middle of a bustling metropolis, the world just stopped as we basked in pure Broadway glory.”
That night, the group enjoyed Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theatre, where 2018 Jimmy Award winner Andrew Barth Feldman currently stars in the title role, before it was back to rehearsals bright and early the following day.
After the end of a whirlwind week, it was finally time for the Jimmy Awards Ceremony. Starlight leadership and board members traveled to New York City to support the Blue Star Award winners under the bright lights of Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre—where Disney’s The Lion King plays eight times a week. In addition to performing the opening number with all of the nominees, Aubuchon was featured in a character medley and Carr performed in the Showbiz-Themed production number. On that same stage, Jimmy Awards alumni Kyle Selig (Mean Girls), Stephanie Styles (Kiss Me, Kate), Andrew Barth Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen) and Renee Rapp (Mean Girls) all made appearances.
“It has been wonderful to be part of The Jimmy Awards for the last eleven years,” Andy Pierce, Starlight Theatre education & outreach manager, said. “We’ve had 22 students go through the program, making friends across the country during their time in New York City. I know nominees keep up with one other once they return home and for years to come. That happens because Broadway League, which administers the program, fosters a great network of supportive artists. I’m happy Janie and Samuel had the chance to join the list of amazing students that went through this rewarding experience. I can’t wait to see what else they accomplish in the future!”
Congratulations to Aubuchon and Carr on a fantastic week in New York City. For more information on The Jimmy Awards, visit jimmyawards.com.