"The Beginning of My Future" — High Schoolers from TX On Coming to NYC For the Jimmy Awards

News   "The Beginning of My Future" — High Schoolers from TX On Coming to NYC For the Jimmy Awards The 7th Annual National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards, will be held June 29. Nominees Audrey McKee and Alec Michael Ryan blog about their week in New York City and their journey to the Jimmys.

Audrey McKee
Audrey McKee

Now in its seventh year, 52 high school student finalists have been selected from across the U.S. to perform in the ceremony at the Minskoff Theatre, currently home to the Broadway musical The Lion King. Sutton Foster will host.

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 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.

Audrey McKee and Alec Michael Ryan represent The Tommy Tune Awards in Houston, TX, for their respective performances as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins and Laurence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

McKee and Ryan will continue to update Playbill.com with an exclusive blog that takes readers behind the scenes and into the rehearsal rooms.

Audrey McKee: June 24

An alarm went off at 3 AM, and I knew that today was going to be a big day!

Despite being ever so tired (due to much anticipation from the night before), I was already excited about the week ahead. At 5:30 AM sharp we met at the airport and began our journey. I was consumed by thoughts of what an incredible week I had ahead of me: the talented and successful people I was going to meet (did I mention Sutton Foster is this year's host?!), the thrill of stepping onto a Broadway stage and the wonderful life lessons that I was going to learn about going into this tricky, but rewarding business. I felt like this was the beginning of my future, and I was ready to jump right in.

Before I knew it, our flight was over, and we had arrived. Let me tell you — there's nothing quite like stepping out of the airport and taking a glimpse at the beauty of New York City.

As I was riding in the cab, I just couldn't believe that I was actually here. I thought about how many other kids would kill to be in my shoes, and I knew that I had to start this week off with a positive attitude and a willingness to go above and beyond, no matter how much hard work it might take.  We were greeted with what seemed like some good-ole Southern hospitality from the NYU (Jimmys) staff and were soon off to our rooms. Post unpacking, our chaperone Rob, Alec and I went off to adventure and take in the beautiful weather, as Houston weather is rarely below 85 degrees.

I was so excited when it finally came time to begin the activities! I loved meeting all of the nominees and finding out what characters they were bringing. Everyone is so nice and so incredibly talented.

Musical director Michael Moricz began leading us in the opening number to the show. I was amazed at how incredible the selection of songs he chose sounded together. We hit the ground running and rehearsed all the way until 10:30 PM — a great way to end our very first day of this special week! I am so excited to see what the rest of this week has in store!

Oh, and we saw Jake Gyllenhaal in a cab on our way back to the rooms, so I'd say it was a very successful night!

Alec Michael Ryan
Alec Michael Ryan

Alec Michael Ryan: June 24

Day 1 of the Jimmy Awards process is complete, and what a thrilling Day 1 it has been.

Upon arriving in the best city in the world, I checked in at NYU, unpacked the tons upon tons of luggage we were required to bring and then made my way out into the city for some adventure and a Caesar salad.

A couple of hours later, and after a lovely walk in the city, we enjoyed some pizza while we conversed and got to know the other nominees. It was so thrilling sitting in a room with such talent. Here we are. New York City. The Jimmy Awards. It is finally here.  

At the "pizza party" we took a group photo and then made our way into the black box theatre space. We sat through a thorough information meeting with the staff and the people that make this amazing event possible.

After all the talking, it was time to sing. Music was handed out, and without missing a beat, we began hard work on learning the opening number of the award ceremony. I don't want to give away too much, but, boy, are you in for a treat! On that note (excuse the unintentional pun), I had a moment of appreciation and awe about halfway through the evening's rehearsal. Yes, we were all exhausted from the long day of travel and stress, but there we were… Singing and learning… TOGETHER.

From all over the United States, performers came to the musical theatre capital of the world to perform together as one ensemble. It really is an incredible thing, and I am getting goose bumps just typing this in my dorm after a long day of productive and informative work.

Day 2 is only a short seven-and-a-half hours away, so I shall try and savor the little rest I can get. Until tomorrow… Goodnight, friends. #thejimmys

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