What are The Jimmy Awards?
The Jimmy Awards, also known as The National High School Musical Theatre Awards, "are a national celebration of outstanding student achievement, recognizing individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performance and elevating the importance of theatre arts education in schools" (jimmyawards.com).
So basically, talented high school students with a passion for musical theatre from all over the country compete until they are narrowed down to the best of the best. Then the judges award one boy the Jimmy award for Best Actor, and one girl the Jimmy award for Best Actress. ANNNND this year's was hosted by Ben Platt, as in Evan Hansen from Dear Evan Hansen, as in Benji from Pitch Perfect, as in this year's Best Lead Actor in a Musical Tony winner.
What I experienced:
Having gone to a performing arts high school, I felt that I was more aware than most of the capabilities of teenagers, particularly when it came to performance. And I couldn't imagine a better night than watching BEN PLATT host an awards show dedicated to young musical theatre artists, kids that were very well gonna grow up to create amazing art. They were the future, and it was so exciting to be able to witness the beginning of it all.
After work I attended a happy hour with my coworkers, opting to munch on appetizers rather than drink anything other than water. But I was able to kill time with good people for a few hours. And then I set off on my own for The Minskoff Theatre, which yes, is the same venue where The Lion King has played on Broadway for a WHILE...but tonight, it's where The Jimmy Awards was gonna be.
When I found my seat, it was clear to me that nearly everyone in the audience was family of the performing students, just about bursting with pride at their kids about to make their Broadway debuts. I wasn't family, but I always derived pleasure at witnessing young performing artists perform, so I knew this night was gonna be a treat. I also just couldn't believe my good fortune at the fact Ben Platt was hosting. I mean, it wasn't enough that he performed eight shows a week? AND won a Tony? He was also gonna host an awards show on his one night off?!
The kids all entered the stage, 74 of them to be exact, and they performed a Broadway show-tune medly, my favorite kind of medly. I enjoyed it more than I have many Tony awards opening numbers, because these were all actual children and they definitely sounded like they belonged on a Broadway stage.
The deafening roar that broke out from parents and kids alike when Ben Platt entered the stage told me all I needed to know: These were my people. This was my scene. And Ben was adorable as ever, joking around, but still making sure he pronounced everyone's name loudly, clearly, and correctly.
The eight finalists were all gifted with scholarships, but only two of the eight, one girl, and one boy, would be the 2017 winners for the Jimmy Awards:
The final ensemble performance featured all 74 kids on stage singing, very fittingly, 'You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen. It was clear that they had all found themselves on Broadway, and in the theatre community in general, and I looked forward to keeping up with their future achievements.
After the event let out, I met up with Andrew at Planet Hollywood for the after-party! We had special access as press, and so we skipped the line and found ourselves right in the thick of it. Hilariously, the designated press area happened to be the Planet Hollywood gift shop. We did some schmoozing, got some pics/vids, and ate from the all-you-can-eat buffet before finally calling it a night. And what a night it was!
Want to experience next year's Jimmy Awards?
Stay tuned for the 2018 Jimmy Awards! All the information you need is right on their website!