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.
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).
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.