From June 25-July 30, 56 teenagers — who hail from 31 regions across the United States — prepare for the 2014 National High School Musical Theater Awards, which will take place at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre hosted by Ryan McCartan, the 2011 Jimmy Award winner who recently starred as JD in the Off-Broadway musical Heathers and appears on Disney's "Liv & Maddie."
Throughout the week students meet with seasoned Broadway performers and creative artists, attend vocal coachings and rehearsals to stage this year's ceremony, where they will perform and represent musical theatre competitions (where they were previously presented with an award for their performance in their high school production) sponsored by professional theatre organizations in cities across America. A panel of judges determines the recipients of the Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress awards.
Buckley and Magbanua continue to update Playbill.com with an exclusive blog that takes readers behind the scenes and into the rehearsal rooms.
Keenan Buckley: June 29
Day five of the Jimmy Awards was awe-inspiring.
We started off the day by blocking our closing number "Keep on Standing" from the musical Rocky. We also found out that a special guest is going to be the featured soloist in that number. More to come on that tomorrow!
After making sure we knew the closing and opening numbers like the back of our hands, we broke for lunch to get a little pick-me-up before the real work began.
After lunch, we headed back into the main studio to run through all of the medleys and clean up any trouble spots. There weren't many, however. The few that appeared, we cleaned and polished to perfection. After our clean up we headed into one of the other studios to rehearse and make sure everything was in working order for the judges. At 5 PM, we headed to dinner to eat and get ready for our performances. We began with the women's medleys, and then it was the men's turn to show off what we could do. My medley went first, and if I do say so myself, it went quite well. After our medley, I sat down to watch the other two men's medleys, which were spectacular.
After the men performed their medleys, we headed back upstairs to change and let the women go into the main studio to sing their solos. When the women were finished, we got the chance to perform our solos. Again, I went first, and then I sat down and prepared to watch all the other amazing performers I had the honor of sharing this journey with.
It was so awe-inspiring to see one incredible performance after the other. Everyone has grown so much since day one, and director Van Kaplan's notes seemed to really aid all the competitors in their performances.
Well, tomorrow is the big day. We are going to find out who are the finalists and who are the award winners. I am so excited; this has been such an incredible journey, and I know tomorrow will be no different.
I cannot wait to make my Broadway debut, and I cannot wait to find out who the winners are.
Emma Magbanua: June 28
The entire show has been staged.
Monday is a few breaths away. Where has the time gone?
To summarize this blog in one sentence: "Today we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed and performed." We cleaned the opening number, cleaned the medleys and learned the staging to the entire closing number. In its entirety, today was exhausting and thrilling.
The night consisted of presenting our medleys to the judges - girls followed by boys - and then our solos.
Tomorrow's the big day. There's no going back. What we have learned will only propel us forward.
To readers: I hope to see you there!
To the 56 nominees: We've made it.