National High School Musical Theater Awards names 2013 winners

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The fifth annual National High School Musical Theater Awards crowned Sarah Lynn Marion of Fullerton, Calif., and Taylor Varga of Norwin, Conn., its 2013 best actor and actress Monday in a starry show at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. The event known as the Jimmy Awards was the culmination of a week of workshops and rehearsals with industry pros for the 62 nominees from 31 in-state competitions such as the Gene Kelly and Henry Mancini Awards.

The two winners picked by a panel of theater professionals receive $10,000 each in scholarships. Representing Western Pennsylvania were Kelly Award winners Angelo Ragghianti of Pittsburgh CAPA and Rachael Houser of Quaker Valley High School and the Mancini Award winners Zach Malinak from Freedom Area High School and Francesca Nardone from the Ellwood City Area School District.

Other award winners Monday were Billy Krager of Madison, Wis. (Best Performance in an Ensemble), Jillian Caillouette, Norwich, Conn. (Most Improved) and Brian Baylor, East Lansing, Mich. (Spirit of the Jimmy Awards). McKenzie Kurtz from Atlanta was selected to attend Carnegie Mellon University's 6-week pre-college drama program.

The ceremony was hosted by Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana, the Tony-nominated stars of "Rogers + Hammerstein's Cinderella," at the Minskoff, the Broadway home of "The Lion King."

The Jimmys are named for theater impresario James Nederlander, and the New York event is a co-production of Nederlander Alliances, LLC, a division of Nederlander Presentations, Inc., and the Pittsburgh CLO. Van Kaplan, the CLO's producing artistic director, and choreographer-director Keisha Lalama, associate professor in the Point Park University Dance Department and education director for the Pittsburgh CLO, are among the behind-the-scenes champs who make it a magical week and a memorable show for the nominees.

Michael Moricz, who wrote "Eyes on the Goal" for the Kellys, is the music director who pieces together the musical numbers as seen last year on the three-part PBS documentary "Broadway or Bust," which depicted the week leading up to the NHSMTA awards ceremony and Tonys-inspired production.

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Sharon Eberson: or 412-263-1960. First Published July 1, 2013 4:00 AM


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