(Natalie Walker’s article appeared in Vulture, 7/3; via Pam Green.)
For a certain group of musical theater fans, Christmas comes in June.
This Christmas has everything yours does. It has beloved songs. It has lights. It has pageantry. It bestows gifts. It involves pilgrimages across great distances. It is the Jimmy Awards, and it is the most wonderful time of the year.
“What are the Jimmy Awards?” you ask, like an innocent child.
Short answer? They are the high-school Tonys.
Long answer? Founded in 2009, the National High School Musical Theatre Awardsspotlight and celebrate the best of the best in high-school musical theater. There are now 40 participating regions across the nation; each of these chapters hosts its own awards ceremony, selecting one actor and one actress to represent the region on the national stage in New York City at the Jimmy Awards. (The Jimmy Awards are so called not because of the ubiquity of Thoroughly Modern Millie in high schools circa 2009, but because of legendary theatre owner-producer James M. Nederlander, a passionate advocate for arts education and funding until his death in 2016). Participating students are flown to New York for a week; they stay in the dorms at New York University, and rehearse every day in the Tisch building. The show itself takes place at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, where the nominees perform in group numbers throughout the first act — half of them in featured medleys, half of them in a larger production number. During the intermission, a judging panel of respected theater artists select eight finalists to present solos. From these solo performances two winners — one male-identifying actor and one female-identifying actor — are determined.