Exclusive: Sydney Lucas, Kelli O'Hara and More Answer Questions From Jimmy Awards Nominees

News   Exclusive: Sydney Lucas, Kelli O'Hara and More Answer Questions From Jimmy Awards Nominees
Last month, 52 high school students from across the nation came to New York City to participate in the 7th Annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards. Playbill.com asked a handful of the talented young nominees to name their Broadway idols and if given the chance to speak to them, what question would they most like to ask. 


Playbill.com connected the teens to their stars and collected answers from Sydney Lucas, Kelli O'Hara, Corey Cott and Jefferson Mays below:

Madeline Mathias
From: Rockford, Michigan
Idol: Sydney Lucas
Question: What is your dream role?

Sydney Lucas in <i>Fun Home</i>
Sydney Lucas in Fun Home

Sydney Lucas: WOW, Madeline! It's hard for me to think that I'm anyone's idol, so thank you! It's an honor! As for my dream role, since I'm 11, I've mostly looked at parts that are right for my age, and roles like Matilda and Annie were my dream roles until Small Alison came along.  I would have to say from a kid's perspective that this is a dream role, and I'm very fortunate to be able to play Small Alison eight times a week. I'm still researching adult dream roles, but some of the roles that I can see myself doing in the future are Mary (Secret Garden), Edwin Drood (Mystery of Edwin Drood), Katherine (Newsies), Sandy (Grease), Jo (Little Women), JoJo (Seussical), but I think I'm more attracted to roles like Small Alison that hit deep in the heart, have a strong purpose and ability to move people to action and to rethink attitudes...roles that don't just entertain, but leave you forever changed from seeing them. That's really my dream. So, I guess I'm searching for another dream role like the one I'm so grateful to already have in Fun Home.

Jessica Martens
From: West Des Moines, Iowa
Idol: Kelli O’Hara
Question: A. Was it always your dream to perform on Broadway? B. How are you juggling being a mother and a performer?

Kelli O'Hara in <i>The King and I</i>
Kelli O'Hara in The King and I Photo by Paul Kolnik

Kelli O'HaraA. I don't think it was really my dream until college. I didn't know much about Broadway, unfortunately. I wasn't exposed to it enough in Oklahoma. When I started learning about it and meeting people who had worked on Broadway, it became my dream. B. Having other things in my life besides the work (even though it is work that I deeply love) balances my life. So in a way, it's BECAUSE I have both my career and my family that this works for me. It's not always easy, and I have to make sacrifices on both ends, but the pay off is everything. Ultimately, making sure my family comes first is the real secret.

Larry McKay
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Idol: Corey Cott
Question: What part of your education did you find the most valuable?

Corey Cott
Corey Cott Photo by Joan Marcus

Corey Cottt: Yo, Larry! Everybody's educational experience is extremely different, and as actors I think it's paramount that we look at every-day life as an education. We tell stories about the human experience, therefore those around us are our teachers. Regarding my training at Carnegie Mellon, it's hard to describe in words the sheer amount of knowledge and wisdom I gained. We all have this insatiable hunger to perform, right? In addition to a super-driven work ethic, CMU gave me the technique to focus and direct that hunger into something tangible, humble and long-lasting. Something I can share with people my whole life. I'd say that's pretty valuable.

Lincoln Ginsberg
From: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Idol: Jefferson Mays
Question: What is your strategy for playing and switching through so many characters in the show?

Jefferson Mays
Jefferson Mays in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder Joan Marcus

Dear Lincoln, I must confess that early in the run of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, my dresser would whisper in my ear who I was supposed to be before shoving me back onstage after a quick-change; they happen mostly in the dark, after all. I’d say the costume is the biggest clue and most useful mnemonic. For instance, during a recent rehearsal I came out as the wrong D’Ysquith, chiefly because I was wearing my own street clothes.  Linda Cho, our Tony-winning designer, very kindly included me in the design process. She asked me to describe in detail how I imagined each of my nine characters and we worked together to create them. At the first read-through I brought hats from my own collection to differentiate each of the D’Ysquiths and a facsimile of many of them made it into the show. A costume tells you so much about a character: how they stand, how they move and how they want to appear to the world. Putting on a different costume can even change the way you speak.  I guess I could be accused of working from "the outside out,” but I like to rehearse with as many of my costume pieces as possible and certainly with the shoes I’ll wear in performance. Putting on a new costume is like pouring the raw, molten material of yourself into a new mould and emerging as an entirely different person. Costume fittings for me are as exciting as an opening night, as you get to look into the mirror and shake hands with your character for the first time.


Now in their seventh year, the Jimmy Awards feature high school student finalists who have been selected from across the U.S. to train with theatre professionals for a week in New York and perform at the Minskoff Theatre, currently home to the Broadway musical The Lion King. For more information visit NHSMTA.

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