JIMMYS BLOG: Samuel Aubuchon- Pure Broadway Glory
This year, a record 86 high school students from across America will participate in The Jimmy Awards, competing for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress as well as other honors and scholarships at the eleventh annual awards ceremony tonight, June 24.
Jimmy Awards nominees will prepare for their debut on a Broadway stage during a nine-day professional training intensive with NYU Tisch School of the Arts' New Studio on Broadway faculty members plus other theatre professionals. Winners will be selected by a panel of industry experts. Student performers qualify to compete in the national program by winning top honors at regional high school musical theatre awards competitions presented by Broadway League member performing arts centers. Over 1,700 high schools and 100,000 students participate in these annual events.
BroadwayWorld is bringing you the inside scoop on this year's Jimmy Awards with student blogger Samuel Aubuchon- a nominee from Kansas City Starlight Theatre's Blue Star Awards. Earlier this year, he won the title of Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Terry Connor in Blue Springs High School's Side Show.
As I sit on a plush NYU Tisch couch waiting for my preliminary judging session, I felt I needed to divulge all of the craziness of the past few days to the BroadwayWorld readers.
Wednesday began with rehearsals for my production number; a medley featuring five other nominees, each portraying our roles from our respective shows to be performed during the first act of the Monday night ceremony. The medleys are a hodge-podge of characters from across the music theatre realm, each step touching and vigorously dancing backup for one another whilst showcasing their best Broadway belt.
Early afternoon we were split up into private coaching groups, in which various shining stars impart their wisdom and life experience to help bring out a genuine portrayal of our solo selections for preliminary judging. I was so lucky to score an absolute gem, the ORIGINAL Fantine in "Les Miserables," Randy Graff...no big deal??!?
Randy has been so inspirational and kind, telling us to hold the "little kid" version of ourselves close to our hearts, and remind ourselves that everything is always going to end up just fine, no matter what this week throws our way - and this week has been extremely tough.
One of the many shining lights thus far was our night out on the town in Manhattan. Beginning with a dinner at the legendary Sardi's restaurant (nothing was overlooked by the hundreds of pairs of caricature eyes), and then trekking over to the Music Box Theatre for a show. The LAST thing I expected as I was waltzing through Times Square was to look up and see MY FACE (??!?!) scrolling across the massive LED mega-billboards, along with ALL 85 nominees. It was an absolutely unreal experience. As we were standing in the middle of the bustling metropolis, the world just stopped as we basked in pure Broadway glory.
As if anything could ever top billboard mania, we completed our journey to the Music Box to see an old pal and 2018 Jimmy winner Andrew Barth Feldman STAR in his Broadway debut role in Dear Evan Hansen. What. A. Show. The feelings were real. The tears were real. Andrew's high A belted during Words Fail? REAL. It was all real, yet unreal at the same time.
Dinner and a show makes for a long night, and sadly, there was no wiggle room for sleep. We were up and at 'em at 7AM for yet another day of staging and coaching. By Saturday morning, the days had just gotten longer. Non-stop run throughs of show material peppered with appearances from several theatre news outlets came like the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle: take a bit at a time and repeat. Rinsing all of the dirt and mistakes out of our repertoire, we carved our solos down to raw, real performances to be displayed for various industry professionals at our preliminary judging session on Sunday evening.
With less than 24 hours until our first round of judging, we sat in the starkly painted Burrows Theater at NYU Tisch. One by one we presented our best interpretations of our selected solo pieces for director Van Kaplan and choreographer Kiesha Lalama, and quickly we realized there was absolutely no reason to be nervous. About ten boys in, a shift had gone through the room and each nominee had sunk comfortably into their chairs in order to enjoy the free concert. It was one of the very few times in my life I had been surrounded almost completely with like minded, musical people. All of the sudden I was giddy with excitement for our long awaited final performance.
Make sure to tune in on Monday to see us perform, live from the Minskoff Theatre on BROADWAY!!