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2022 Illinois High School Musical Theatre Award Recipients Announced


Best Actor and Actress Award Recipients will Represent Illinois in “The Jimmy Awards®,” also known as The National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, named after James M. Nederlander

In celebration of outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre performances, Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce the award recipients of the 11th Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards (IHSMTA) sponsored by NBC 5: Joseph Kotze of Frankfort, IL (Lincoln-Way East High School) as BEST ACTOR for his portrayal of “Sweeney Todd” in SWEENEY TODD and Regan Wright of Elmhurst, IL (York Community High School) as BEST ACTRESS for her portrayal of “Alice Murphy” in BRIGHT STAR. Joseph and Regan will represent the state of Illinois at The Jimmy Awards® (also known as The National High School Musical Theatre Awards®) in New York on June 27, 2022.

In addition to our winners, Broadway In Chicago announced for the first time in the program, a BEST ACTOR and BEST ACTRESS runner up should the BEST ACTOR and/or BEST ACTRESS be unable to represent IHSMTA at the Jimmy Awards®. The BEST ACTOR RUNNER UP was awarded to Josh Fermin of Barrington, IL (Barrington High School) and the BEST ACTRESS RUNNER UP was awarded to Juliet Simon of Deerfield, IL (Deerfield High School).

On Monday, May 23, 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 performed for a panel of casting agents and theater professionals who chose the recipients.

In addition to the auditions, students were taught a group number to “One Short Day” led by WICKED company member Ben Susak (Dance Captain/Swing) which they performed at the ceremony.

BEST ACTOR Joseph Kotze and BEST ACTRESS Regan Wright will be sent to New York City, on an all-expense paid trip, for a week-long theatre intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for a one-night-only showcase, where they will represent the state of Illinois at The Jimmy Awards® on Broadway, on Monday, June 27, 2022. 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 Jimmy Awards®.

The Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards have proven to be a stepping stone for young performers, with several appearing in Broadway productions. Nathan Salstone (2012 IHSMTA Best Actor) made his Broadway debut in HARRY POTTER & THE CURSED CHILD and recently appeared in the National Tour of HADESTOWN, John Clay III (2013 IHSMTA Best Actor) made his Broadway debut in CHOIR BOY. Jack Cahill-Lemme (2016 Best Actor) is currently in the North American tour of MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL which launched its North American tour in Chicago back in March 2022. Additionally, Wren Rivera (2017 IHSMTA Nominee) made their Broadway debut in JAGGED LITTLE PILL, and Joy Woods (2018 IHSMTA Finalist) made her Broadway debut in March 2022, joining the Broadway cast of SIX.

Other Illinois winners have also been successful at The Jimmy Awards®: Jonah Rawitz (2014 IHSMTA Best Actor) was awarded the 2014 Jimmy Award® for Best Performance by an Actor, Cecilia Trippiedi (2016 IHSMTA Best Actress) was awarded the 2016 Jimmy Award® for Best Dancer, Darian Goulding (2018 IHSMTA Best Actor) was a 2018 Jimmy Award® finalist, and Jacob Simon (2019 IHSMTA Best Actor) was the recipient of the 2019 Rising Star Award from The Jimmy Awards®.

The 76 participating high schools involved in the program are given opportunities to see Broadway In Chicago shows and receive invitations to special events throughout the year. In years past, students performed with the casts of DEAR EVAN HANSEN and HAMILTON at Broadway In Chicago’s Summer Concert at Millennium Park, and performed with HAMILTON Chicago Company’s Miguel Cervantes (Alexander Hamilton) at the Illinois Bicentennial Birthday Party at Navy Pier. Most recently students performed at Sunday’s On State, the Chicago Loop Alliance activation inviting people back to the loop after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on The Jimmy Awards®, also known as the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, visit For more information on both awards and complete rules and regulations, visit

The Jimmy Awards®/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA®) program impacts more than 140,000 students who participate in 46 regional high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of touring Broadway productions throughout the United States. Named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, the program has been the catalyst for more than $5,000,000 in educational scholarships. Presented by The Broadway League Foundation, the NHSMTA invites one Best Actress and one Best Actor nominee from each local regional ceremony to New York City for a week-long theatre intensive that includes coaching, training, and rehearsing led by some of Broadway’s most accomplished professionals. Nominees will spend one week in New York City from Monday, June 20, 2022, through Tuesday, June 28, 2022, and their combined efforts throughout the week will lead to one extraordinary talent showcase performed live in front of an audience on a Broadway stage. The thirteenth annual Jimmy Awards will take place on Monday, June 27, 2022, at the Minskoff Theatre. For more information, please visit



WICKED, the Broadway sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

From the first electrifying note to the final breathtaking moment, WICKED —the untold true story of the Witches of Oz—transfixes audiences with its wildly inventive story that USA Today cheers is “a complete triumph! An original musical that will make you laugh, cry, and think.”

Performances begin September 28 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre.

Tickets are now on sale.

About NBC 5 Chicago

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About Sound, Production & Lighting (SPL)

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About Jennifer Heim Photography

​Jennifer Heim Photography specializes in live stage, rehearsal and headshot photography. Having shot over 900 productions and countless headshots, Jennifer is able to capture the emotion of a scene and create images that portray character depth and beautiful lighting design. Being a director and choreographer, she can anticipate blocking and movement to capture the best moments of your production for IHSMTA submissions. You want your students to stand out in their college auditions. Jennifer teaches them how to be in front of the camera to perfectly capture their personality for college auditions. 


Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and, over the past 22 years, has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country. A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining more than 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop, including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at the Auditorium Theatre.