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Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4

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The Jimmy Awards return as a virtual ceremony on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4

It's just under one month until the biggest night in high school musical theatre! The Jimmy Awards officially return as a virtual ceremony on Thursday, July 15, 2021. View the full list of nominees!

As presented by the Broadway League Foundation, the program has, in past years, invited two nominees from each of these regional ceremonies to New York City to participate in a theatre intensive including coaching and rehearsals with Broadway professionals in preparation for a one-night-only talent showcase on a Broadway stage.

Before we get to know this year's nominees, BroadwayWorld is catching up with some of the program's alumni! Below, get to know just a few, including: Kristen Brock, Casey Butler, Elleon Dobias, Harold Eric, Francesca Iacovacci, Kyra Leeds, Lucy Moon, Sam Primack, Justin Smusz, Taylor Varga, and Michael B. Williams.

Be sure to check back later to hear from even more Jimmy Awards alumni!

View Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Kristen Brock

School: Harrison School for the Arts

City, State: Lakeland, FL

Jimmys Year: 2018, 10th Annual

Favorite Memory: - Standing on the Minskoff Theatre stage with everyone for the first time. - Watching Andrew Barth Feldman experience Dear Evan Hansen in the audience with him.

Been Up To: - I am a junior musical theatre major at Montclair State University. - I am currently in a New Work musical called "Brooklyn's Bridge," directed by writer Ray Roderick and composer Joe Baker. It is inspired by the extraordinary life of Emily Roebling, Brooklyn Bridge Chief Engineer Washington Roebling. - I worked with a company called Tenacious Theatrics to create a virtual production of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" as Janet with many other incredibly talented folks from across the country. (There are clips of this on my website). - I also have a Youtube channel called "Far Stage Left" where I create vlogs about my college/ travel life and even have some videos talking about my experience as a Jimmy Awards nominee :)

Tell This Year's Class: Take it all in... really listen to what EVERYONE in the room has to offer, because these are going to be your peers for the rest of your musical theatre career. I still see all of my fellow nominees, teachers, mentors and idols from this experience in my every day life and you create such special bonds in this environment.


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Casey Butler

School: Cardinal Newman High School

City, State: West Palm Beach, FL

Jimmys Year: 2018

Favorite Memory: My favorite memory was rehearsing and performing with my friends on the Minskoff Stage. It was special to me because THE LION KING was the first Broadway show that I ever saw at age 5 and I got to perform on that stage.

Been Up To: Recently, I served as a guest artist in a local university's production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. In the spring of 2019, I appeared in WEST SIDE STORY at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre as Baby John. I've been auditioning for college programs this past year and am currently deciding on a college program. All along the way, I have been training and preparing for my BFA Musical Theatre undergraduate studies.

Tell This Year's Class: Make sure you do everything in your power to stay healthy because this will be one of the most rigorous weeks of your life.

Where can we see new clips?: You can search my name on YouTube to view video of me when I was performing on Broadway and in productions at The King's Academy.


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Elleon Dobias

School: Valor Christian High School

City, State: Littleton, Colorado

Jimmys Year: 2017

Favorite Memory: Eating my first New York black and white cookie - life changing. I'm obsessed, now.

Been Up To: -Working the Chicago Theatre Scene, mainly as an actor-musician with an emphasis on violin (Chicago Premiere of Broadway's "Indecent" by Paula Vogel, World Premiere of "Haymarket" by David Kornfeld, Children's Theatre, Blackbox contemporary works, and more) -Ex-Girlfriend on the 2019 National Tour of "Once" -Denver Center for the Performing Arts New Play Summit 2020 -Current Company Member at the American Shakespeare Center.

Tell This Year's Class: I want to encourage those who place much of their emphasis on their acting (unlike their more vocally-centric classmates)-- The Jimmy Awards may be more in the style of a "showcase" - but I challenge you to find the story you are telling, even if it's only within yourself.


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Harold Eric

School: Poly Prep

City, State: Brooklyn, NY

Jimmys Year: 2013

Favorite Memory: My favorite Jimmy Awards memory was the song coaching process, through which I had the opportunity to receive vocal and performance coaching from Leslie Odom Jr. It was an eye-opening experience to witness my peers' interpretations of various musical theatre classics transform into honest, captivating stories in such a short workshop period.

Been Up To: In the years since, I have appeared on numerous television shows, including "Gotham" (FOX), "Search Party" (HBO Max), and two soon-to-be-announced projects, as well as various commercials. Most recently, however, I wrote, produced, and directed "Daddydelphia," a half-hour animated comedy television pilot, which premiered in early March. For this production, I was able to cast two other incredibly talented Jimmy Awards 2013 alumni in principal roles: Halle Mastroberardino and Sakyiwaa Baah. In just the one month following the pilot premiere, we have won eight festivals, received official selections for over thirty others, and were recently listed on Amazon Prime Video.

Tell This Year's Class: If there's one thing that I wish I knew during my Jimmy Awards experience, it would be this: be yourself. It's natural to want to "fit the mold" or attempt to mirror those in the industry who you idolize. However, if you've made it this far, it means that others have already recognized something special about you and your ability. So be confident, have fun, and enjoy the ride!

Where can we see new clips?: Additional videos and clips can be found on https://www.harolderic.com. The trailer for the aforementioned television pilot (featuring three Jimmy Awards 2013 nominees) can be found below:


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Francesca Iacovacci

School: Palm Harbor University High School

City, State: Palm Harbor, FL

Jimmys Year: 2016

Favorite Memory: I loved learning and rehearsing all the group numbers!

Been Up To: After the Jimmies and graduating high school, I went to Oklahoma City University pursuing a Bachelors of Music in Music Theater! I graduate this May and plan to move to NYC this summer!

Tell This Year's Class: Be thankful for the opportunity to perform and learn from such amazing people, especially this year when performance opportunities have been scarce! Have fun and make friends!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Kyra Leeds

School: Townsend Harris High School

City, State: Flushing, NY

Jimmys Year: 2012

Favorite Memory: It was absolutely electric to be a part of a group of kids making their Broadway debuts simultaneously. I was so touched by everyone's passion, vulnerability and drive. Anytime I need to keep my hustle alive in this business, I think back to that magical night on the Minskoff stage.

Been Up To: BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College. Professional credits: Royal Caribbean's CATS (Jennyanydots); Argyle Theatre's FULL MONTY (Vicki); Hangar Theatre's A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Christmas Past); the REV Theatre Company's PARADE (Ensemble/Dance Captain); Bristol Riverside Theatre's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (Greta). Arts Administration: I am currently on the Fundraising Team for MCC Theater and an Admissions Counselor for Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts.

Tell This Year's Class: Soak it up: all of the knowledge, all of the connections, all of the fun. Be confident in your abilities. Find strength in knowing that this is just the beginning of your long journey in this business and beyond.


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Lucy Moon

School: Regional Center for the Arts

City, State: Connecticut

Jimmys Year: 2011

Favorite Memory: I have a feeling I won't be the only one to say this, but the moment we first stepped foot on stage at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway was magical. We were all huddled together just taking it all in. Our dreams felt so palpable in that space and it was very emotional. Performing on that stage later that night solidified that this was what I wanted to do with my life and I will be forever grateful for that!

Been Up To: I have since graduated high school, received my BFA in Musical Theatre from Point Park University, and moved to NYC to start a career in theatre! I have performed Off-Broadway, across the US on tour, and regionally. I wouldn't trade this life for the world and it was truly my experience at the Jimmy Awards that lead me to it. It's always an added bonus when I get to see my fellow nominees at auditions and in productions! The Jimmy Awards family is made up of the most supportive and talented humans.

Tell This Year's Class: As cliché as it sounds: Believe in yourself. If you are uniquely and unabashedly YOU, everything else will fall into place. There is no such thing as "perfection" and you are doing yourself a disservice by trying to be *just* like your favorite Broadway performer or trying to fit in. There is room for everyone - "No one is you, and that is your power"!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Sam Primack

School: Chaparral High School

City, State: Scottsdale, Arizona

Jimmys Year: 2017

Favorite Memory: The first time stepping on the stage with all of my fellow nominees, who had been working so hard to get to this point as well, just basking in how amazing this program is and how lucky we were to be there was something I will never forget.

Been Up To: In 2019, I join the Broadway Company of Dear Evan Hansen as an understudy for Evan, Jared, and Connor. In late 2019, I joined the national tour of DEH as the Evan Hansen Alternate!

Tell This Year's Class: Take a moment to take it all in and realize how special this moment is. Find the moments throughout the show to check back in and take in all of your surroundings, because it's a feeling you will never forget.

Where can we see new clips?: You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @samprimack!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Justin Smusz

School: Benet Academy

City, State: Lisle/Illinois

Jimmys Year: 2017

Favorite Memory: Of all of the memories I made at the Jimmy Awards, my favorites are spending pre-show time with Ben Platt in the dressing room and celebrating the week at the Planet Hollywood afterparty (the mac & cheese was FIRE).

Been Up To: After the Jimmy Awards, Justin spent four years at Indiana University pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre. During that time, he's been working remotely for DMR Adventures, a performing arts academy in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2019, Justin started his own website design company (jussites.com) specializing in websites for artists. At the onset of COVID-19, Justin started his second business, Unmuted Productions (unmutedproductions.com), a production company with a mission to help theatre organizations, playwrights, directors, and all theatre artists create virtual content in a time where the industry was greatly restricted. Justin's virtual theatre production work can be seen in "For Which It Stands", a new play by Lee Edward Colston II, which was aired by New York Theatre Workshop in February 2021. Justin looks forward to moving to NYC in September of 2021, where he plans to continue both his video production work and performing.

Tell This Year's Class: While the Jimmy Awards are an incredible way to celebrate high school performing in a competition setting, the most valuable thing that comes from it are the connections you make. Of course, bring your A-game and work hard, but don't get caught up in the "competition" of it all. Take advantage of every resource that the Jimmy's offers you, including the opportunity to make personal connections with the people who will be running the room in years to come!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Taylor Varga

School: Newtown High School

City, State: Newtown, Connecticut

Jimmys Year: 2013

Favorite Memory: Stepping on stage at the Minskoff Theater for the first time for our dress rehearsal. In that moment, we said: "Wow, this is really real. We're about to perform on Broadway."

Been Up To: I work as the Plaza Manager for the Times Square Alliance - the organization works to make Times Square a safe and clean place for all through outdoor plaza programming, public art installations, and our signature events including Taste of Times Square & New Year's Eve.

Tell This Year's Class: Soak in every moment and be present!


Catching Up with the Jimmy Awards Alumni- Part 4 Michael B. Williams

School: McKinney Boyd High School

City, State: McKinney, Texas

Jimmys Year: 2012

Favorite Memory: My favorite memory was getting coached by Leslie Odom Jr. and taking part in the "Broadway or Bust" series on PBS. When we presented our solo songs in front of everyone, I couldn't believe how incredibly talented each individual was.

Been Up To: I currently live in Los Angeles and am a working finalist for The Actors Studio. Before the big move to LA, I toured in a vocal group for about three years on land and sea. It was incredible to see the world and also sing. Since the industry took such a hit from COVID, I've been working on-set in commercials as a Production Coordinator. I never thought I'd be so interested in getting behind the camera to see how a set is really run, from finding a crew to making everything fit in the budget. Though this year, I'm eager to start acting and singing again as everything begins to open back up.

Tell This Year's Class: If I could go back and give my high school-self some advice before jumping into one of the craziest weeks of my 18-year old life, I'd say to fully jump-into the experience head-first. Be as vulnerable, uncomfortable, and free as you can. Everyone around is there to support you, not judge you. You are there for a reason! Show them your gift!


For more information about the Jimmy Awards, visit: JimmyAwards.com.

Photo Credit: Mark Abramson


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