HS Students Make Broadway Debut; 5 Win Scholarships

NEW YORK  -- Five students won college scholarships Monday night for trading in their performances in high school musical productions for Broadway.

Kyle Selig of Long Beach, Calif., was named best actor in a high school musical and Alexandria Payne of Atlanta was named best actress at the second annual National High School Music Theater Awards ceremony. Each "Jimmy" winner received $10,000 toward their education.

Three other students were given $2,500 scholarships for their performances.

In all, 44 students performed selections from roles they played in their high school musical at the Marquis Theatre, home of the Broadway show "Come Fly Away."

Selig won for his portrayal of Don Lockwood in "Singing in the Rain." Payne won for her performance as Ti Moune on "Once on this Island."

The "Jimmy" award is named for theater owner James Nederlander, whose company is a co-sponsor of the awards ceremony. The award comes with additional scholarship funds to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts if winners choose to go there.

The students arrived in New York last week and have been rehearsing every day. They learned music and choreography for their own songs and their peers', for which they'll perform as backup singers and dancers.

"We're working our butts off every single minute of every day," said John Jorge, 18, of Norwich, Conn., who is singing a song from "Les Miserables." Jorge missed his high school graduation so he could compete.

"This is one of those things I had to go to," he said. "I'm probably never going to get to experience this ever again."

The students also joined the cast and musicians of "Come Fly Away" to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, whose music is the soundtrack for the show.

During their trip, the students took in the Broadway show "Memphis" and spoke with the cast after the performance. They performed for casting director Bernie Telsey, who was one of the award's judges, on Tuesday.

"We're trying to give these kids an authentic, meaningful, professional experience," said Van Kaplan, president of the awards organization and the show's director. "If they decide they want to pursue this as a career, they will have had kind of a taste of it."

Despite the grueling rehearsal schedule, Stephanie Styles of Houston hopes to pursue a career as a musical theater actress.

"You teach people, you entertain them, you can do so much with a musical," said Styles, 18. "And you get to sing and dance and act."