Charlotte Student Named Male Finalist at National High School Musical Theater Awards

Charlotte Student Named Male Finalist at National High School Musical Theater Awards

Mekhai Lee, named Best Actor in the 2014 Blumey Awards, was one of the top three male finalists in the Best Actor category at the 2014 National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City on June 30, 2014.

Lee is a recent graduate of Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte.

The National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as The Jimmy Awards, is a week-long Broadway "boot camp" and competition for the winners of high school musical theater awards from across the United States. Fifty-six high school students from 28 organizations competed in the Jimmy's this summer at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. The show was held on Broadway at the Minskoff Theater, home to Disney's The Lion King, as an orchestra in the pit featuring some of Broadway's top musicians played. Participants performed an opening and closing group number to a medley of songs from various shows arranged by Michael Moricz, received intense coaching on their solo songs from Broadway veterans and were even taken on a field trip to see "Kinky Boots" on Broadway after dining at famed theater-district restaurant Sardi's.

Lee and Ashlyn Uribe of Carmel Christian School represented Charlotte in New York after competing in the 2014 Blumenthal Performing Arts High School Musical Theater Awards in May at Belk Theater. Best Actress, Abby Corrigan, could not attend the Jimmy Awards due to illness and was replaced by runner-up, Uribe. Sponsored by Wells Fargo, "The Blumey Awards" were created by Blumenthal Performing Arts three years ago to recognize, celebrate and nurture the talents of high school theater students in the Charlotte region, as well as offer area students a pathway to the national competition in New York.

This year was the second time one of Charlotte's winners cracked the top group at The Jimmy's. Eva Noblezada was among the four actresses invited to perform a solo for the judges last year. Noblezada went on to land the lead role of Kim in Miss Saigon, now playing in London's West End.

"We are very proud of Mekhai Lee and we're thrilled to have yet another one of our Charlotte representatives be among the finalists in the national competition in only the third year of The Blumey Awards," said Blumenthal Performing Arts President Tom Gabbard. "It speaks to the quality of the high school musical theater programs and the teachers leading these efforts in our region." Thirty-nine Charlotte area high schools participated in The Blumey Awards this year.

"It was such an exhilarating week," said Lee. "Hearing my name called out as a finalist was an unreal experience. It is truly something I will never forget."

Uribe, who was runner-up for Best Actress for her portrayal of "Maria" in Carmel Christian School's production of The Sound of Music, took the opportunity to attend the Jimmy Awards quite seriously. She said it was the chance of a lifetime and exceeded all expectations.

"Having the honor of attending The Jimmy Awards and competing with so many talented people was astounding," said Uribe. "I've learned more here in one short week than I have in my entire life!"

Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by Duke Energy, sponsor of the Duke Energy Broadway Lights Series; and PNC Bank, sponsor of the 2014-2015 PNC Broadway Lights.

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