15 Jimmy Awards Contestants Who Made It on Broadway
We don’t know about you, but when times are hard — we like to turn to videos from The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (also known as the Jimmy Awards). Why? Because they have everything we love about musical theater: relentless enthusiasm, unbridled talent, and more Jean Valjean duets than you thought possible.
As a salute to the Jimmy Awards (they have unfortunately been cancelled this year due to everything going on in the world), we’ve compiled performances from 15 past-contestants-turned-Broadway-stars. We hope you’ll sing along, pass the time, and join all of these talented folks at the theater when it’s safe.
Andrew Barth Feldman
Less than a year after winning the Jimmy Awards in 2018 — and at the age of 16! — Feldman was center stage on Broadway as Evan Hansen in (of course) “Dear Evan Hansen.” He finished up his run in the musical fave in January and his next leading role is as a student at Harvard University. No big deal. Check out his medley performance as Frank William Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can” and his solo as Jack Singer in “Honeymoon in Vegas.”
Antonio’s Broadway debut as Phoenix in “Jagged Little Pill” came after being named a finalist at the 2017 Jimmy Awards. Take a look at his medley performance as Mickey McKee in “Hello! My Baby” and his “Children of Eden” solo song, “Lost in the Wilderness.” Then — jam to him singing your Alanis Morissette faves on the “Jagged Little Pill” soundtrack.
In a matter of years, Christian Thompson has gone from a star turn at the Jimmy Awards as Signor Naccarelli in “The Light In The Piazza” to portraying Smokey Robinson each night on Broadway in “Ain’t Too Proud.” And let us tell you that both performances are ones you don’t want to miss. Check out his medley below.
In the past couple of years, it feels like it wouldn’t be Broadway without Eva Noblezada. Just a year after being named a Jimmy Awards finalist in 2013, Nobelzada made her West End debut as Kim in “Miss Saigon.” She then took that performance to Broadway where she received her first Tony Award nomination. After “Miss Saigon,” she originated the role of Eurydice in the Broadway fave “Hadestown” (where she received another Tony nom at 23). Listen to her as Kim and Eurydice on Spotify and as Ariel Moore from “Footloose” in her medley performance and Molly Jensen from “Ghost” in her solo, both below.
Jai’Len Christine Li Josey
No one else has a voice like her. Jai’Len blew the roof off the Jimmy Awards in 2014 — where she was named the winner after performing as Effie Melody White in “Dreamgirls” in the medley and as Queenie in “The Wild Party” for her solo. After these life-changing moments, she went on to star as Pearl Krabs in “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Broadway (where she tore the roof off the theater each night).
John Clay III
Before taking the Broadway stage as Anthony Justin “AJ” James in “Choir Boy,” John Clay III was a dueling Jean Valjean from “Les Miserables” during this Jimmy Awards medley in 2013.
What do Link Larkin from “Hairspray,” Tony from “West Side Story, ” and Evan Hansen from “Dear Evan Hansen” all have in common? They’ve all been played by 2016 Jimmy Awards winner Josh Strobl. After wooing the audience as Larkin in the medley and leaving us speechless in his emotional solo, Strobl’s now the understudy on Broadway for Evan, Connor, and Jared in “Dear Evan Hansen.” That’s a tough job — but he’s clearly got the talent.
Before transferring to North Shore High School, Kyle Selig was the 2010 Jimmy Awards winner. His performance as Don Lockwood from “Singin’ in the Rain” in the medley and his Robbie Fay solo from “A Man of No Importance” make it clear why he was the last man singing. They also show why Selig quickly became a Broadway star (in two musical hits!) after winning the Jimmys. He first took center stage as Elder Price in “The Book of Mormon” before originating the role of Aaron Samuels in “Mean Girls.”
Lily Kaufmann just made her Broadway debut as an ensemble member in “Mean Girls” which is like, super fetch. Before that — she had us speechless from her medley performance as Janet Van De Graaf in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Jimmy Awards in 2013.
McKenzie Kurtz is basically Jimmy Awards royalty. Why? Because not only was she a nominee in 2013, but she also took the Jimmys stage in 2015. Check out her hilarious performance as The Lady of the Lake in “Spamalot” (she was in the same group as Lily Kaufmann!) and a dueling Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” below and then catch her as Anna in “Frozen” on Broadway.
Her name is Reneé Rapp and she is a massive deal. The same year that Andrew Barth Feldman won the Jimmys, so did Rapp. And just like Feldman — she’s now a Broadway star. See Rapp sing the medley as Sandra Bloom in “Big Fish,” her solo as Hedda Hopper in “Chaplin,” and join her at the cool kids table where she’s now Regina George in “Mean Girls” on Broadway.
This is another Jimmy Awards medley duel you don’t want to miss. Before making Broadway magic as Fiyero in “Wicked” and his current gig as Hans in “Frozen” (with McKenzie Kurtz!), McCartan was the 2011 winner of the Jimmy Awards. Check out his J. Pierrepont Finch in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and his crowning rendition of Jason Robert Brown’s “Someone To Fall Back On” below.
It looks like the Jimmy Awards and “Dear Evan Hansen” will be friends forever. After being named a 2017 Jimmy Awards finalist, Primack was an understudy for Evan, Connor, and Jared on Broadway and he’s now the Evan Alternate in the “Dear Evan Hansen” National Tour. Take a listen at his Frank William Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can” (the same role that got Andrew Barth Feldman to the Jimmys!) and his Mick Jackson in “Lysistrata Jones” below.
We love seeing true Broadway fans take center stage on Broadway. Stephanie Styles was a 2010 finalist at the Jimmy Awards and you can watch her medley performance as Janet van de Graaf from “The Drowsy Chaperone” below. What happened after the Jimmys? Well, she was the original Katherine Plumber in the 1st National Tour of “Newsies” and just last year she made her Broadway debut as Lois Lane in “Kiss Me, Kate.”
From a dueling medley performance as Jimmy Smith in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the 2012 Jimmy Awards to a recent Broadway debut as a dueling Jet in “West Side Story,” Tyler Eisenreich is a performer we’re always excited to watch.
Bonus video: Elyse Bell
We’re just going to put an extra performance in here because we can and it makes us happy. Elyse was a nominee at the 2019 Jimmy Awards and her medley performance as Jo in “Little Women” has (quite literally) been on repeat in our office since it was uploaded to YouTube. Take a break and listen to Bell — and the rest of the amazingly talented ladies in this vid.