The Jimmy Awards, Like the Tonys (Only with More Fun and More Tears)

July 1st, 2014 by

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The Jimmy Awards, Like the Tonys (Only with More Fun and ...

Unbelievably talented teens from all across the country gathered together at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre on June 30th for the sixth annual Jimmy Awards—the National High School Musical Theater Awards honoring the best of Broadway’s next generation. Cue Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.”

Whitney Houston GIF

But seriously, this group of students had more talent than words can describe. Jaws were dropped, hands were in the air and standing ovations (plural) were well earned. It was more fun than the Tony Awards. After the ceremony, BroadwayBox caught up with the night’s big winners, celebrity mentors and some of our favorite performers (some of our other favorites were just too hard to identify out of costume, sadly). Get to know what the future stars of Broadway are belting along to, watching on YouTube and more. (And check out their selfies)

Matthew Richards from Utah (Finalist for his performance as Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel)

Matthew Richards

What Broadway YouTube video do you feel really inspired by when you watch it?
“My favorite YouTube clip is from the 2013 Tony’s opening number. Neil Patrick Harris talks about how right now there’s some little kid in the middle of nowhere dreaming of Tony performances, and I’m from Utah and it spoke to me so much. I cry almost every time I see it. I hate that I cry but it’s so inspiring to me. I feel like, ‘Yes, that’s me; I could do it.’”

Michael Hudak from Connecticut and Jonathan Norwood from California (Jean Valjean in Les Miserables)

Michael Hudak and Jonathan Norwood

Your guys’ duet of “Bring Him Home” was a highlight of the night. If you could duet with any Broadway star, who would it be and what would you sing?
Michael: “Ramin Karimloo and I would do ‘The Confrontation.’”
Jonathan: “The first thing that came to my mind was ‘The Confrontation’ as well but I would probably do it with Norm Lewis as my Javert. I’d rock that.”

Sophia Tzougros from Wisconsin (Finalist for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie)

Sophia Tzougros

What original cast recording is your go-to to sing along with?
“It would either be the 1980s Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline or 1776 Original Broadway Cast. I want to play John Adams. I love it.”

Ryan McCartan (Host and 2011 Jimmy Award Winner)


When you were in high school, what cast recording were you always belting along to in your car?
“Absolutely Spring Awakening. I was everything; I was a one-man show; I was Wendla too.”

California rising stars Ayla Stackhouse (Vanessa in In the Heights) and Joshua Velez (Pippin in Pippin)

Ayla Stackhouse and Joshua Velez

What Broadway YouTube video do you feel really inspired by when you watch it?
Ayla: “Recently, I’ve been obsessed with watching old Bernadette Peters concerts. I’ll watch that 24/7. I love her performance of ‘Not a Day Goes By.’ She just acts it so well. Every time I watch it I just bawl my eyes out.”
Joshua: “Usually I’ll look up inspirational Broadway songs like Pippin’s ‘Corner of the Sky’ or Kinky Boots’ ‘Not My Father’s Son.’ They lift my day up and make me want to do this even more.”

Julia Lindsey Whitcomb from Illinois (The Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone)

Julia Lindsey Whitcomb

You were serving so much diva tonight in your number; who is your Broadway diva inspiration?
“Patti LuPone, hands down. What got me into theater in the first place was the 2009 ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses.’ I saw her and I went, ‘All right, that’s what I want to do.’”

Mekhai Lee from North Carolina (Finalist for his performance as Shrek in Shrek the Musical)

Mekhai Lee

What cast recording are you always belting along when you’re driving around?
Kinky Boots, all the time. Billy Porter is my idol. I have to say [I own] ‘Not My Father’s Son’ or ‘Everybody Say Yeah.’ It’s such a great album. I love Cyndi Lauper, and Billy Porter just takes me to church every time.”

Julia Murney (Jimmy Awards Mentor)


When you were in high school, what cast recording(s) were you wearing out? “My full-on jams was Dreamgirls. I was Loretta Devine; ‘Even though my man throws confetti in my face, still don’t make it no party.’ Also, some Liz Callaway in Baby. Mind you, growing up in New York, I saw all of these on Broadway. And Bette Midler, The Divine Miss M; I love that album—it’s not even past tense.”

Jonah Rawitz from Illinois (2014 Jimmy Award Winner as Usnavi in In the Heights)

Jonah Rawitz- Jimmy Awards

What Broadway YouTube video are you playing on repeat?
“There’s not a specific one coming to mind but any performance that has real storytelling and communicates a great message through the music, which is what musical theater is all about.”

Brooke Solan from Nevada (Finalist for her performance as Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone)

Brooke Solan

You have the most beautiful soprano voice; who are your favorite sopranos to sing along to?
“Kelli O’Hara is my favorite. I adore her voice. I always try to sing somewhat like her. ‘The Beauty Is’ from The Light in the Piazza is my favorite of hers.”

New York rising stars Sarah Liddy and Steven Ryan Telsey (The Drowsy Chaperone and Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone)

Steven Ryan Telsey and Sarah Liddy

What Broadway star has blown you away to the point where you stayed and waited for them at the stage door?
Sarah: “Lindsay Mendez in Wicked. Oh my lord, she took me by storm. I was like, ‘You go girl.’”
Steven: “Danny Burstein, who played Aldolpho. I just saw him in Cabaret and he was phenomenal. I love everything he does.”

Kaycee Murto from Texas (The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot)

Kaycee Murto

OMG. You belted the hell out of Spamalot tonight. When you’re at home belting your face off by yourself, who are you belting along with?
Patti LuPone. Anything: Gypsy and Women on the Verge—so good. And Sweeney Todd too.”

Adam Kantor (Jimmy Awards Mentor)


When you were in high school, what was the show that every year you hoped your high school would finally do so you could star in it?
“I really wanted them to do Equus. I guess I was a deep, dark child and I thought that play was thrilling. I read it over and over and over again. I had never read anything like it. I was obsessed with it.”

Shane Satterfield from California (The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz)

Shane Satterfield

Your Cowardly Lion was so original and funny. Who are your comedy icons? Who makes you laugh?
“I personally like Gabriel Iglesias. I don’t listen to a lot of musical comedy men; I listen to a lot of comedians tell jokes. And I basically watched the movie every day after rehearsal.”

Staci Stout from Florida (Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun)

Staci Stout

Your voice is absolutely spectacular and Broadway belter Linda Eder is your vocal coach; what’s the best lesson she’s taught you?
“I can't even begin to describe. There’s so many! Probably how to belt safely.”

D’Arcy Green from California (JoJo in Seussical)

D’Arcy Green

What cast recording are you always belting along when you’re driving around?
“Well my CD player in my car can hold six CDs so I have Pippin, the two disc special of Les Miserables 25th Anniversary, Beautiful and Newsies.”

Ryan Borgo from Pennsylvania (Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can)

Ryan Borgo

You were nailing the “Friend Like Me” dance tonight. If you could dance with any Broadway dancer in history, who do you want to dance with?
“It might be Gene Kelly because I am from the Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards, and oh my god, to tap with a hoofer like him, I’d cry.”

Jai' Len Josey from Georgia (2014 Jimmy Award Winner as Effie White in Dreamgirls)

Jai' Len Josey

You just won a Jimmy for playing Effie White, the ultimate dream role. What other roles are on your bucket list?
“I’ve been dying to play Velma or Mama in Chicago, Sarah in Ragtime and of course, Queenie in The Wild Party.”

Check out Jai' Len Josey in action in the video below, and mark your calendars for next year’s Jimmy Awards, because it's a can’t miss event.