With Passion and Heart, High Schoolers from Around the U.S. Prepare for the 2013 Jimmy Awards

By Michael Gioia
27 Jun 2013

Anthony Nappier
"Excited" was the most common word used at the Jimmy Awards' Meet and Greet, where students — a handful of whom are spending their first week in New York City — are given the chance to perform on Broadway's Minskoff stage, home to the Tony Award-winning production of The Lion King, and are reeling from the opportunity.

"I think the first show that I ever saw was The Lion King at the Pantages [Theatre in Los Angeles], and that was when I was eight, so [being in New York City], I am able to rekindle that flame that made me want to be a performer," said 18-year-old West Coast native Anthony Nappier, who received the Jerry Herman Award for his performance as Adolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone. "I didn't think I'd be performing on Broadway any time soon, and it's just a great experience — this whole thing."

The entire process consists of rigorous rehearsals with director Van Kaplan, choreographer Kiesha Lalama and music director and arranger Michael Moricz; meet-and-greets with professional performers and casting directors in the theatrical industry; and a performance and presentation on Broadway with judges Scott Ellis (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Kent Gash (founding director of NYU Tisch School of the Arts' New Studio on Broadway), Montego Glover (Memphis), Rachel Hoffman (casting of First Date, Hands on a Hardbody, Bring It On), Alecia Parker (executive producer of Pippin, Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Nick Scandalios (chairman of The Broadway League and executive VP of the Nederlander Organization) and Bernard Telsey (casting of Tarzan, The Wedding Singer, The Color Purple).

Chris Maclean

What is 18-year-old Chaparral High School student Chris Maclean most looking forward to? "Honestly, the endless rehearsals," he said. "I want to go to a conservatory program really badly, so non-stop theatre, 24/7, with incredibly talented people and incredibly talented instructors — that's like a dream come true. Just that is incredible for me."

Maclean represents The Bobby G. Awards for his performance as Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the epic Tony-winning musical Les Misérables, who was imprisoned and branded as prisoner number 24601.

"I've never gotten more into a role than I have with Valjean," he explained. "I read part of the book, and what I didn't read, I went on SparkNotes and Wikipedia to try and find out as much as I could about Valjean. And, the song 'Bring Him Home' I actually have a really strong emotional connection to. My brother is in the air force, so when he left home, our song for him was 'Bring Him Home,' which is the song Valjean sings to a soldier, [Marius]. And, there's a reprise of that same song that Valjean sings when he's dying that [says], 'I'm dying. Bring me home — bring me to heaven,' and my mom wants me to sing that reprise at her funeral. So there was a huge emotional connection to the role that was really hard to tackle, but I worked hard, and apparently it paid off."