The newly created awards, named "The Jimmy" in honor of theatre impresario James M. Nederlander, will acknowledge excellence in high school musical theatre programs. The first of the NHS Musical Theater Awards will take place June 1, 2009, at the Palace Theatre.
Best Actress and Best Actor awards will be presented to two high school students culled from the nationwide theatre competitions that are produced annually. A panel of industry experts will select winners of "The Jimmy."
"My father believes in talent—on stage, back stage and in business. This new award will help encourage a new generation of artists and audiences," James L. Nederlander, president of The Nederlander Organization, said in a statement. "The Jimmy Award is a fabulous way to honor his 60-year career as an entrepreneur, a showman and his vision for the future. We are humbled and grateful that the Pittsburgh CLO is naming this award in his honor."
The NHS Musical Theater Awards are based on Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards, which began in 1991. Numerous regional theatre companies have followed suit, including Casa Mañana's Betty Lynn Buckley Awards.
Regional companies nationwide will be eligible to send two performers to participate in the NHS Musical Theater Awards in New York. Among the companies that award excellence in high school theatre are the American Musical Theatre of San Jose; Casa Mañana of Forth Worth; 5th Avenue Musical Theater Company of Seattle; Houston's Theatre Under The Stars; Kansas City Starlight Theater; Musical Theatre West of Long Beach, CA; Music Theatre of Wichita; North Carolina Theatre; North Shore Music Theatre of Beverly, MA; New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse and Pittsburgh CLO. James M. Nederlander, the chairman of the Nederlander Producing Company of America Inc., has earned 11 Tony Awards throughout his career, spanning over 60 years. In addition to operating such Broadway theatres as the Brooks Atkinson, the Gershwin, the Lunt-Fontanne, the Marquis, the Minskoff, the Nederlander, the Neil Simon, the Richard Rodgers and the Palace Theatre, Nederlander has produced such notable productions as Annie, Applause, Peter Pan, Copenhagen, The Will Rogers Follies, Movin' Out, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Me and My Girl, La Cage aux Folles, Nine, Noises Off, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, Benefactors, Sugar Babies, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and Woman of the Year.