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ASU Gammage hosts High School Musical Theater Awards

Briana Fleming

Briana Fleming, recent graduate of Marcos de Niza High School, won the Best Lead Female award for her performance as Cinderella.

June 07, 2017

Chiffon dresses, crisp bowties and red carpet glamour worthy of the Tony Awards decorated ASU Gammage as high school thespians from around the Valley prepared for a performance that would showcase their tenure as teen actors.

As part of ASU Gammage’s annual High School Musical Theater Awards, theater programs throughout the state were celebrated in a series of performances and an awards ceremony.

“These performances allow for the community to celebrate and applaud students, teachers and administrators for keeping the love of musical theater alive in future generations. The pure excitement and joy on each student's face as they step foot on the same stage as Idina Menzel and Lin Manuel Miranda, is incomparable,” said Melissa Vuletich, cultural participation program manager. “These are memories that will last a lifetime and allow students to see ASU Gammage, and ASU as a whole, as a welcoming and encouraging place, and you can't ask for much more than that.”

Throughout the school year, adjudicators assessed each school’s musical to rank the actors and performances in a variety of categories as the state-level qualifier for the National High School Musical Theater Awards, also called the Jimmy Awards.

Presented by The Broadway League Foundation, the Jimmy Awards are a national celebration of outstanding student achievement, recognizing individual artistry in vocal, dance and acting performance, and elevating the importance of theatre arts education in schools, according to its website.

Seventy-four high school students from 37 regional programs across the country will travel to New York City for a week-long musical theater training program taught by Broadway’s most influential players.

The program will culminate in a talent showcase featuring both solo and ensemble performances as students compete for the Jimmy Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress.

Arizona’s representatives will be Briana Fleming, winner of Best Lead Female, and Sam Primack, winner of Best Lead Male.

“I’m looking for something to help me improve,” said Fleming, a recent graduate of Marcos de Niza High School. “I’m hoping to get some really good advice from the people who are helping out with the madness of the Jimmy Awards. 

As the Fairy Godmother in her school’s production of "Cinderella," Fleming’s performance about dreams coming true helped her fulfill her own aspirations. Just like Cinderella, she didn’t see it coming. 

“I didn’t think I was going to win,” reflected the humble young actor. “The whole time I was like, ‘This isn’t happening.’”

Sam Primack, who will be a senior at Chaparral High School next year, starred in his school’s production of "Catch Me If You Can," but was not able to attend ASU Gammage’s High School Musical Theater Awards due to scheduling conflicts.

Primack said he was overjoyed and excited to find out that he had won because he believes participating in the Jimmy Awards will be an incredible opportunity.

“I’m hoping to learn a little bit about myself and the way that I can perform to the best of my abilities,” he said. “I’m excited to meet new people and learn along with them.”

At ASU Gammage’s ceremony, 10 other students won awards, two won scholarships and Perry High School’s production of "Mary Poppins" was awarded for its best Overall Performance.

The ninth annual Jimmy Awards, hosted by "Dear Evan Hansen" star Ben Platt, will take place June 26 at Manhattan’s Minskoff Theatre. Tickets are on sale now. 

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