Lilla Crawford, Montego Glover, Telly Leung and More Celebrate High School Theatre as Jimmy Award Winners Are Announced on Broadway

By Michael Gioia
02 Jul 2013

Taylor Varga
Photo by Henry McGee/NHSMTA
Each finalist went on to perform a solo for the judges. Varga, who was named the 2013 Best Actor, filled the Minskoff with "Santa Fe" from the Disney musical Newsies, and Marion, the 2013 Best Actress, brought down the house and commanded the stage with her performance of "Raunchy" from 110 in the Shade.

"[In 'Raunchy'], I got to act a way that I don't normally get to on a daily basis. It was freeing! I get to sing the best notes that are in my range, and I get to be sexy on stage, and it's exciting," said Marion, who admitted that "Raunchy" was an unlikely and scary choice for her Broadway solo. "It's a rush of emotions. I've never felt this way before. I've worked so hard for this. To be honest, I was shocked when they said my name. There's so much talent in that room and on that stage, and everyone is amazing — beyond crazy talented. [When] they said my name, I was floored. I was at a loss for words, and I still am."

Although at a "loss for words," the Best Actress managed to thank her mother in her acceptance speech and continued to sing her praises at the Jimmys after party. "My mom is everything that I am," she said. "I got my voice from my mom. I am who I am today because of my mom's strength — to get through the hard times and to be able to overcome evil and obstacles… She's my hero. She's my rock. She's my number one."

"None of us could be here without the support of each other," added Best Actor Varga. "It was truly an honor [to perform on Broadway] because you're sharing a stage and an environment with professionals who have been at it so long and who do it every night, eight times a week. It's mind-boggling to think that you are one of thousands who are able to do it."

The winners (and recent high school graduates) — who received $10,000 from the Nederlander Organization to further their education and will be eligible for four-year merit and need-based scholarship assistance to attend the New Studio on Broadway, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama (contingent upon acceptance into the program) — plan for college in the fall.

The five runners-up each received a $2,500 scholarship toward their future education from the Barry and Fran Weissler Foundation, and additional awards were presented to Billy Krager (Best Performance in an Ensemble), Jillian Caillouette (Most Improved) and Brian Baylor (Spirit of the Jimmy Awards). Another student, McKenzie Kurtz, was selected to attend Carnegie Mellon University's six-week pre-college drama program.

The students, beaming from their Broadway debut and their year of theatrical accomplishments, celebrated at John's Pizzeria until the stroke of midnight.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

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Sarah Lynn Marion and Taylor Varga with NHSMTA director Van Kaplan and James Nederlander Jr.
Photo by Henry McGee/NHSMTA