The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (affectionately named the Jimmy Awards after the late Broadway producer James M. Nederlander), returns to the Minskoff Theatre for its ninth year on Monday, June 26. The annual event brings together talented high-school students from across the country for a nine-day professional training intensive, concluding with a two-hour showcase that will reward one boy and one girl with university scholarships and the title of Best Actor and Best Actress.

Before this year's ensemble of 74 students take the stage for their Broadway debuts, we caught up with six of the finalists who won top honors at their regional high school musical theater awards competitions. Find out what roles got them to the Big Apple, what parts they hope are still ahead of them, and which showtunes they're unashamed to admit they have on repeat.


Grace Auer (Age 16) — Buffalo, NY
Reno Sweeney, Anything Goes


(© Jon Elder)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
My first-ever role onstage was Brigitta von Trapp in The Sound of Music for the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in my hometown.

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
My most-played cast album — that's a tough one, but I'd have to say Legally Blonde, with my most-played track being "So Much Better." It always puts me in the can-do Elle Woods mindset!

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
My Broadway idol is Sutton Foster. I admire how talented she is in every aspect! Even though I can't imagine the amount of work she puts in, she makes it look effortless.

4. What is your dream role?
One of my dream roles is Roxie Hart from Chicago. I love the music and dancing from that show. She is such a firecracker and so sassy. It would be a fun role to take on!


Levi Hopkins (Age 16) — Logan, UT
Gomez Addams, The Addams Family


(© photo provided by the Broadway League)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
Kurt von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
I love The Bridges of Madison County, and I really enjoy listening to "Always Better."

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
Patti LuPone. She is an incredible actress and her vocal control is amazing.

4. What is your dream role?
What isn't my dream role?! Some of my dream roles include Leo Frank in Parade and Montague D'Ysquith from A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.


Ramone Nelson (Age 17) — Atlanta, GA
Jean Valjean, Les Misérables


(© Cynthia Jill Photography)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
Jesus in Godspell Jr. I had so much fun playing that role!

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
Memphis! I played Gator in the GA Thespian All-State Show! "Memphis Lives in Me" or "Say a Prayer" is definitely played the most!

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
Ramin Karimloo or Jeremy Jordan! All the songs I've sung, they have sung! I look up to and admire their acting and their vocal capabilities. They both have a stage presence that captivates an audience as soon as they step on stage, and when they sing, it's like the cherry on top!

4. What is your dream role?
I've played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, but the next character hopefully will definitely be Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde. The complexity of the character shows that the actor who plays the part well has a physical and emotional range that requires a lot out of an actor, and I'm all about a challenge!


Maddie Rubin (Age 17) — New York, NY
Rosemary Pillkington, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying


(© photo provided by the Broadway League)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
The first role I ever played onstage was a subway rat in a show called B.O.T.C.H. at TADA! Youth Theater. I was about 10 years old and I had a blast running around in my fat furry rat suit.

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
Probably the original A Chorus Line and either "At The Ballet" or "What I Did for Love." Recently, though, I have been obsessed with the new Hello, Dolly! cast recording, specifically "Put on Your Sunday Clothes."

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
Probably Kelli O'Hara. I feel like she's always doing something and holds herself with such grace and poise. I also love how she takes on classical and contemporary shows with such ease.

4. What is your dream role?
Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. I first learned how to do a time step when I was eight years old and played a sailor in a tiny production of that show. I've been obsessed ever since.


Carly Meyer (Age 15) — Chicago, IL
Hodel, Fiddler on the Roof


(© photo provided by the Broadway League)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
The Stinkbug in A Bug's Life.

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
Currently, it's Dear Evan Hansen. The song is "Words Fail" because listening to that song transports me into the show.

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
Kristin Chenoweth and Audra McDonald.

4. What is your dream role?
Fiona in Shrek (I've already played the role, but would love to play it professionally).


Lauren Johnson (Age 18) — Omaha, NE
The Drowsy Chaperone, The Drowsy Chaperone


(© That Werks)

1. What was the first role you ever played onstage?
My first role was playing A Lady in Waiting in Once Upon a Mattress.

2. What is your most-played cast album? And what is the most-played track on that cast album?
My most-played cast album is The Wild Party, and my most-played song is "How Did We Come to This?"

3. Who is your Broadway idol?
Right now, my Broadway idol is Laura Dreyfuss of Dear Evan Hansen. She seems so genuine and her performance is beautiful.

4. What is your dream role?
My dream role is Sally Bowles in Cabaret.