Posts Tagged ‘IHSMTA’

Behind the Scenes at IHSMTA with student reporter Nate Garner

Posted on: June 12th, 2017 by B.I. C. No Comments

FullSizeRender.jpgThis last Monday, I was given the privilege to cover the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. I love the showcase of so much talent throughout the state from students that are so young and still so passionate in their craft. My ultimate favorite part of the ceremony, however, is seeing two deserving students be chosen to compete in the Jimmy Awards! In my free time, I binge the Jimmy Awards’ medleys and solo videos on YouTube with a bowl of knock-off goldfish (times are hard). These are the Broadway stars of tomorrow, what’s not to love?! Being able to report on the #BICihsmta gave me a first-hand look into the rehearsal experience, and the juicy IHSMTea that would be spilt. Not to my surprise, there was actually no tea, no tension, no drama in the room when I arrived at the Broadway Playhouse. Just finishing up auditions, the nominees were merely ECSTATIC and full of crazy amounts of energy. It was like someone grabbed the most hyper puppies from around the state, and put them in a room full of squeaky-toys and homework. They were mingling and helping one another with the choreography they had learned that morning and most importantly, making friends.

I began my experience by first meeting with the Broadway In Chicago/IHSMTA team and gaining access to the Instagram account for the day. I then made a point to meet every nominee I did not already know. Luckily, I had met a good handful of the contestants from either ILMEA Choir, Theatre Fest, or the All-State Productions. One nominee is my best friend from my high school (shout out to Ben Dow; what a guy). The remaining members were all extremely friendly and not hesitant to do any weird interview question I asked. I began to interview, slowly easing into the fun energy that surrounded me. It started with sincere questions about how the nominees were feeling, but I realized the time for focus was on halt. They all deserved a fun time to relax before the dress rehearsal; therefore, I just asked them to meme with me and chat with me and I forced a few to dance. You know…the usual. Everyone had no issue being goofy and joking around for the camera because they’re theater kids: the most social and most interesting people on the planet.

The time for the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards had arrived!. I grabbed my seat, and watched the lights go down in the house and up on the stage. The three male and three female nominees were announced and I genuinely felt like my child was a finalist. I was so excited for Natalie Doppelt (whom I’ve known for a near 2 years), Carly Meyer (whom I met briefly when I attended her production of Fiddler on the Roof), and Tatum Langley (whom I had only met that night). The same goes for Justin Smusz (whom I met at ILMEA Conference), Dominic Cappuccilli (whom I met briefly when I attended his production of City of Angels), and Jordan Radis (whom I only found out existed when I met him that day). All six finalists gave me chills and made me cry, regardless of how long I had known them, like my babies were graduating from college or won a Tony or something. At the end, I jumped for joy when Carly and Justin were crowned as winners. I got to congratulate them personally, along with York Community High School for winning “Best Production”, Lauren Condon & Brian Wand from Benet Academy for winning “Best Direction”, and Cary-Grove High School for winning “Best Scenic Design”. My favorite part of the night was guiding Justin Smusz to the office to be interviewed, but listening to his excitement as he tried to thank everyone in the lobby.

The overall experience was an absolute joy, making teens dance, making adults scream in excitement,, and most importantly making all my viewers smile. That is what makes The High School Musical Theatre Awards my favorite time of year…and that the world knows me as “Natertot” now, so that’s a plus. I’d like to thank Broadway In Chicago, and the entire Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards staff who chose me for this position and made the experience one to remember. Thanks for everything.


2017 Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards winners announced!

Posted on: June 7th, 2017 by B.I. C. No Comments

In celebration of outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre performances, Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce the award recipients of the Sixth Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards: Justin Smusz of Bolingbrook, IL (Benet Academy) as BEST ACTOR for his portrayal of Chad in ALL SHOOK UP and Carly Meyer of Northbrook, IL (Glenbrook North High School) as BEST ACTRESS for her portrayal of Hodel in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Justin and Carly will represent the state of Illinois at The Jimmy™ Awards in New York on June 26, 2017.

York Community High School was awarded the Best Production Award for their production of WEST SIDE STORY and Cary-Grove High School was awarded the Grosh Scenic Design Award, celebrating excellence in scenic design, for their production of EVITA. Lauren Condon and Brian Wand were awarded the Best Direction Award for their direction of Benet Academy’s production of ALL SHOOK UP.

On Monday, June 5, Broadway In Chicago crafted a full day of workshops with theatre professionals for twenty-four nominees that culminated in a performance on stage at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.  During the day, nominees auditioned for a panel of casting agents and theatre professionals who chose the recipients of performance awards.

In addition to the day of workshops featuring Chicago actor Jonathan Weir (Jafar) in Disney’s Aladdin North American tour and Disney Teaching Artist Kelly Jacobs who previously performed in Chicago in Disney’s Mary Poppins North American tour, nominees will receive tickets to Disney’s Aladdin in Chicago, currently playing at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre through Sept. 10, 2017.

Justin Smusz and Carly Meyer will be provided with an all-expense paid trip to New York City to participate in a week-long theatre intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for a one-night-only showcase on Broadway, where a panel of judges crowns the nation’s top performers. They will represent the state of Illinois at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, on Broadway, on  Monday, June 26, 2017. The National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as The Jimmy™ Awards, are named for legendary Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander. Broadway In Chicago is a Nederlander presentation, and is excited to join the network of theatres across the country participating in The Jimmys™.

My Journey to The Jimmys – Jack Cahill-Lemme, IHSMTA 2016 Best Actor

Posted on: July 21st, 2016 by B.I. C. No Comments

By Jack Cahill-Lemme

After winning the IHSMTAs things moved very quickly. I had to really strap down and start choosing my song selections as fast as I could. After they were selected, Ceci and I got the opportunity to work on them with Nick Cosgrove, who has always been something of a childhood hero of mine due to the fact that he came from my high school and when I was in eighth grade I was lucky enough to have seen him in Jersey Boys (as Frankie Valli). That same day we gave the curtain speech at The Sound of Music at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. I’ve been seeing shows there since I was a tiny little kid so being able to walk around backstage was a thrill in itself, going on the stage at the end of the show and addressing thousands of people was just the cherry on top.


L to R: Cecilia Trippiedi, Howard McGillin, and Jack Cahill-Lemme. Howard McGillin (longest-running Broadway Phantom) coached Jack for the week leading up to the Jimmy Awards.


When it came time to go to New York I felt very prepared and was anxious to start out on the experience that I had been dreaming of having since middle school, having seen the documentary years before. Because I had seen the documentary, and stalked the Jimmy’s YouTube channel for hours at a time every chance I got, I knew for the most part what I was getting myself into. Keisha, the choreographer, was a diehard professional who demanded the best out of each and every nominee and that is exactly what she got. I learned an immense amount from her in just 10 short days and if any of my college professors are anything like her, I cannot wait. Besides working with Keisha, I was coached by Howard McGillin, who holds the record for longest running Phantom in the world. This was surreal for me because The Phantom of the Opera was my first and favorite show I had ever seen on Broadway and Phantom has always been my dream role. Along with his phenomenal coaching, we were also introduced to an array of Broadway legends (Andrew Lloyd Weber, Eden Espinoza, and Karen Olivo, just to name a few).

Jack Cahill-Lemme performing as Edward Bloom from “Big Fish” onstage at The Minskoff Theatre 7/27/16. Photo by Henry McGee.


The best part of it all by far though was performing on the Minskoff stage on Broadway, which is where The Lion King is currently playing. As a kid growing up in the theatre, all your life you hear about the impossible dream that is Broadway and stories about those who have performed there. You start to wonder if it actually lives up to its reputation. Now I can finally say after standing there and performing on that stage, it was everything they say and more. I am forever grateful to those who made this experience possible for me and most of all to Broadway In Chicago for selecting me as their representative. It was the time of my life.

My Journey to The Jimmys – Cecilia Trippiedi, IHSMTA 2016 Best Actress

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by B.I. C. No Comments

Cecilia vocal audition

By Cecilia Trippiedi

My journey to the Jimmy Awards began four years ago when my mom and I watched the documentary “Broadway or Bust”. Ever since viewing that show, I knew I wanted the National High School Musical Theatre Awards to be in my future. I trained in private voice and dance throughout my life and patiently waited for my school, Carl Sandburg, to choose a musical with a qualifying female lead. I was cast as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and that role landed me a nomination as one of twelve girls competing for the title of Best Actress at the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. I went into auditions with an open and clear mind and put my training and passion out in the open for everyone to see – and it paid off. When it was announced that I was chosen to represent Illinois in NYC I was beside myself. To this day I still don’t believe that all of it was real. It would be my first time in New York and I was elated to say the least.

The Jimmy Awards was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I made lifelong friends and truly got a taste of what the professional industry is like. It was also an amazing springboard into college, where I will be pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre with a Dance Concentration from Otterbein University. I am going into my freshman year with copious amounts of training and knowledge as well as inspiration.

Guest Blog: Illinois High School Musical Theater Award Recipient – Meadow Nguy

Posted on: July 16th, 2012 by broadwayinchicago No Comments

This has been an amazing ride. My Show Choir director saw a flyer about the IHSMTAs at a competition and handed it to my mom with the statement that I should try to do this. While we talked a bit about it, because I was knee-deep in rehearsals for our Spring Musical the Wizard of Oz, I was honestly only half listening. I was focused on memorizing, blocking, character building to make Dorothy as real as she could be. Mom took pictures, Dad worked video magic, we all talked some, and then sent my application off in the mail without thinking much more about it. I didn’t figure it would really amount to anything given that it was for the whole state.

I was floored when the call came that I was a finalist. All I could think of was “I was a what?” and “I have to be where?” Then the list came out of all the students who were participating and I thought “Wow, those are some big schools”. O’Fallon has a great music program, but I had seen a lot of other schools through show choir competitions that were up in those areas and it always seemed like they were incredibly talented. I spent a lot of time talking with my Choir director and my Show Choir director and finally came to terms with the fact that whatever was going to happen would happen and so long as I gave it my best shot, I could be proud and they would be proud of me. The day of the IHSMTA competition came and it was amazing getting to work with the crew from the Jersey Boys. I could hear a lot of the other students with their big “belty” songs and realized that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” just wasn’t that kind, so I honestly didn’t figure that I’d stand out in anyway. So I went into my audition with the thought that I was there for the experience and to do the best I could. I honestly didn’t think I heard right when my name was called for the IHSMTA actress winner. When I realized I had to sing again, all I could think of was please don’t cry. My mom laughed when I was talking to her on the way home after, because I told her that “I didn’t cry, but thought I would start now”; and I did. I bawled.

Then came the preparation for New York. Talk about a nerve wracking experience in preparing. Working on four songs, not knowing what questions to ask, but knowing you should have a million of them. Trying to figure out how to connect to new characters for the songs that were to be competition possibilities. I was more nervous getting ready for New York than I was in New York. Our chaperone Jamie was fantastic. She was a girlfriend, chaperone, and mom all rolled into one. I know Nathan and I could never thank her enough for her support. Her enthusiasm totally helped put me at ease. It was my first airplane ride, first taxi, first trip to New York…lots of firsts. New York was…EXHAUSTING. Long days of rehearsals, real life working with Broadway professionals, and staff at NYU. There was definitely a “Reality” to the whole experience if you’re truly interested in going into Musical Theater. There were times that you feel really good about it, and times that you second guess what your doing with your performances. Some people you connect with and some that you realize you can respect, but just wont’ connect with. It’s a “total” learning experience. It was incredible being with other students that love the same thing you do and not have to deal with all the “high school pettiness” of jealousy and talent because your all there for the same reasons; your all talented or you wouldn’t be there. Everyone was very supportive of each other. I don’t know if it is that way every year but it was wonderful in that way this year for me. I made some amazing friends and worked with people that I’ve only ever dreamed of meeting. Yes, I jumped up and down when meeting some of them, even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that. Thankfully, they were all so very gracious about it. Auditioning was nerve wracking, but I came to the point during that week where I decided that no matter what happened, so long as I gave it my best shot, I could be proud of myself. Performing on a Broadway stage…well there is nothing like it, no comparison. It did reaffirm though that I want to be in Musical Theater more than ever.

I hope that Illinois can be proud of Nathan and me. We worked hard, learned a lot, and sure gave it our all. I know that I’m going to be forever grateful for the opportunities that have come about because of winning the IHSMTA award. It has given me more opportunities and new experiences that I ever dreamed would happen at the age of 16. I certainly go into my Senior year with eyes wide open as to what I want to do with my life and how hard I’m going to have to work to make it happen. Who knows, maybe sometime in the next five to ten years, it’ll be Nathan and I there inspiring students just like us. Definitely worth adding to my list of goals. Thank you so very much for all your support of us. You have definitely become part of our extended Broadway family. I won’t ever truly be able to express the amount of emotions that go into this experience but know I have grown tremendously and I can totally contribute a lot of it to this amazing ride.

– Meadow Nguy, IHSMTA Award Recipient