Meet Some of the 2019 Jimmy Awards Nominees, From an Aspiring Elphaba to a Rubik’s Cube Wiz

Awards   Meet Some of the 2019 Jimmy Awards Nominees, From an Aspiring Elphaba to a Rubik’s Cube Wiz
 
A record 86 students will compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards June 24.
Rehearsal for the 11th annual Jimmy Awards
Rehearsal for the 11th annual Jimmy Awards Marc J. Franklin

“And we’re not marking now,” choreographer Kiesha Lalama tells the 86 students standing in front of her, just before the throng launches into a peppy show choir-esque chant of Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.” What follows is a five-minute medley of optimistic takes on songs from such shows as Be More Chill, Hadestown, Dear Evan Hansen, and Beetlejuice.

The routine will open the 11th annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards—known more commonly as the Jimmy Awards—June 24, as the students showcase their talents on a Broadway stage for the first time. For some, it likely won’t be the last. Last year’s winners, in fact, are currently in starring roles on the Great White Way (Dear Evan Hansen’s Andrew Barth Feldman and Mean Girls’ Reneé Rapp).

READ: The Jimmy Awards Will Once Again Live Stream on Facebook

Each nominee earned his or her spot in the national finals after winning one of 43 regional competitions, each of which awarded Best Performance by an Actor and Actress to students for their work in high school productions. Arriving in New York City last week, they have participated in events, workshops, master classes, and plenty of rehearsals ahead of the big night.

Get to know six of the rising stars through their dream roles, special skills, and performing memories below.

Margo Tipping
Marc J. Franklin

Margo Tipping


Region:
Playhouse Square Dazzle Awards (Cleveland, Ohio)

Nominated for:
Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!

Earliest onstage memory:
“I started doing ballet around age six. I remember having recitals and performing for my family and friends. My grandpa would always bring me flowers.”

Dream role now:
Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie

Dream role down the road:
Heidi in Dear Evan Hansen

Moment that made me want to be a performer:
“Seeing Wicked, especially when the ensemble was singing. There were less than 20 of them, but they sounded so full. It was very inspiring.”

Favorite Jimmys Week moment:
“The coaching. I love my coach, MaryAnn Hu. We all got really deep and pulled apart our songs and were able to take our own emotions and bring them into our acting.”


Drew Sinnard
Marc J. Franklin

Drew Sinnard

Region:
Nebraska High School Theater Academy (Omaha, Nebraska)

Nominated for:
The Baker in Into the Woods

Earliest onstage memory:
“I started out when I was 11. I was Jojo in Seussical for Crane River Theater Company, a local professional theatre in Kearney. It's where I started and where I fell in love with theatre. That was it; that was the moment I knew I wanted to do this.”

Dream role now:
“I did it: The Baker"

Dream role down the road:
Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon

Special skill:
“I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute. I’ve been practicing for four years.”

Theatre idol:
“Nathan Lane. He’s one of the most notorious character actors ever to walk the stage. I love everything he does.”


Haley Dortch
Marc J. Franklin

Haley Dortch

Region:
Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards (Dallas, Texas)

Nominated for:
Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act

Earliest onstage memory:
“I was in sixth grade, I was 11 years old, and I thought this musical idea sounded fun. So I tried out for Schoolhouse Rock Live JR.”

Dream role now:
Elphaba in Wicked

Dream role down the road:
Celie in The Color Purple

Musical theatre YouTube obsession:
Stephanie J. Block’s The Cher Show performance at the Tony Awards.

Favorite Jimmys Week moment:
“When we got to work with Alex Lacamoire and Andrew Barth Feldman. I can't tell you what we're doing just yet, but it was so much fun. Eighty-six people screlting their lungs out? It's amazing.”

Brady Magruder
Marc J. Franklin

Brady Magruder

Region:
The 5th Avenue Theatre Awards (Seattle, WA)

Nominated for:
Edward Bloom, Big Fish

Earliest onstage memory:
“When I was going into eighth grade, I did a summer theatre intensive where we put together a bunch of random songs from different shows and made our own script. I sang "She Loves Me" and danced with a mop. That's what got me into theatre.”

Dream role now:
Jason in Bare: A Pop Opera

Dream role down the road:
Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Musical theatre YouTube obsession:
Ramin Karimloo singing “Bring Him Home”

Favorite Jimmys Week moment:
“Seeing Dear Evan Hansen. The power that a Broadway show has is so different than any other, feeling the bass just rock inside me. I've never cried in a first act before.”


Jimmy_Awards_Rehearsal_Portraits_2019_HR
Marc J. Franklin

Peyton Reese

Region:
Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards (Des Moines, Iowa)

Nominated for:
Veronica Sawyer in Heathers the Musical (High School Edition)

Earliest onstage memory:
“I was in sixth grade, I think. I did The Wizard of Oz at Countryside Community Theatre in Eldridge, Iowa. I was a Munchkin or something. It made me want to continue being around people who love doing the same thing.”

Dream role now:
Janis in Mean Girls

Dream role down the road:
Jenna in Waitress

Moment that made me want to be a performer:
“Growing up, my dad ran the pit for the high school musicals for the Davenport Center. I always went with him because I was young and had nowhere else to go. I just sat in the audience and I would watch show after show after show. It made me fall in love with performing.”

Favorite Jimmy Awards moment:
“Jumping into rehearsals and having no time to ease into it. We're just making it happen with my peers.”

Jimmy_Awards_Rehearsal_Portraits_2019_HR
Marc J. Franklin

Rocco Polanco

Region:
The Broadway San Diego Awards (San Diego, CA)

Nominated for:
Gomez Addams in The Addams Family

Earliest onstage memory:
“I was a dogcatcher in Annie. I was six. I actually got a callback for that, but this was my first show, so I didn't know what a callback was. So we sat by the home phone all day patiently awaiting a ring from the kitchen, and I never got one. My mom was like, ‘Hey, that's life.’ The director called my mom and was like, ‘Where's your kid? We wanted him for a callback!’ And she said, ‘You never called us back!’ And he goes, ‘No, you have to show up.’ I've since learned.”

Dream role now:
“Any character in The Book of Mormon. I’m a huge comedy head.”

Dream role down the road:
Adolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone

Musical Theatre YouTube obsession:
“Norm Lewis as the Phantom. Every single thing he did with that role was incredible. I'll sometimes just stay up late at night and watch Norm Lewis over and over again.”

Favorite Jimmy Awards week moment:
“Meeting the people. There are so many incredible people who are all so talented, and it's humbling to be considered among the same caliber. Nobody here is conceited or treats themselves as highly as they should be. Everyone is humble and so kind.”

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