The Jimmy Awards (Photo: Caitlin Hornik)

The 2022 Jimmy Awards were held at the Minskoff Theatre on Monday night, where Kendall Becerra and Nicholas Barrón were awarded the top prizes.

Becerra, who played Nina in “In the Heights” at Coronado High School, represented The Broadway San Diego Awards. Barrón, representing the Las Casas Foundation’s Joci Awards, played Dominique in “The Baker’s Wife” at Northeast School of the Arts. Both winners received $25,000 scholarships.

The 13th annual awards ceremony, as part of the National High School Musical Theater Awards program, was hosted by Kate Reinders. The sold-out ceremony returned to an in-person format for the first time since 2019.

James L. Nederlander, whose father – the late James M. Nederlander – began the awards ceremony 13 years ago, shared his excitement to be back in-person with Broadway News.

“We’re back. There’s nothing like the roar of the crowd,” Nederlander said.

Nederlander also emphasized the importance of programs like the Jimmy Awards, saying “there’s a lot of kids around the country that don’t have theater programs” and that people “strive for the Jimmys.”

Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, echoed those sentiments, telling Broadway News before the ceremony began that the Jimmy Awards gives students “something to shoot for.”

“The hardest part about the night is that you want so many more to win,” St. Martin said.

“It builds such confidence in them, and we promote back in their communities that they were here. There’s just nothing wrong about it.”

The 92 nominees from 46 regional theater awards programs performed in three different groups during the first act of the ceremony.

Some nominees appeared in character-driven medleys, which included selections from a variety of musicals, ranging from “Bright Star” to “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “Guys and Dolls.”

Another group performed songs written and composed for American theater by women in a medley called “Walls Yet To Climb.” Featured selections included tunes from “Waitress,” “9 to 5” and “Legally Blonde.”

The third group performed a tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim, entitled “Shubert Salutes Sondheim.” Students performed songs from Sondheim musicals including “Company,” “Gypsy,” “West Side Story” and “Pacific Overtures,” among others.

During intermission, the panel of judges – including Bernie Telsey, Tara Rubin, Alecia Parker, and Montego Glover – narrowed down the pool of 92 to 16 semi-finalists and eight finalists.

The eight finalists performed solos on the Minskoff Theatre stage for final adjudication.

Selections included Higher from “Allegiance,” The Music That Makes Me Dance from “Funny Girl,” and three different selections from “Parade.”

In the end, it was Becerra and Barrón who won the Best Performance awards. Becerra sang Breathe from “In the Heights” while Barrón performed This Is Not Over Yet from “Parade.”

In addition to the two Best Performance winners, a handful of other awards were given out.

Elena Holder and Bryson Battle, the 2021 Jimmy Awards winners, were on hand to present their respective theater teachers with the Inspiring Teacher Awards.

As Reinders said at the close of the ceremony: “Let us keep nurturing the next generation.”

Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor/Actress
Kendall Becerra, The Broadway San Diego Awards
Nicholas Barrón, Las Casas Foundation’s Joci Awards

Finalist Scholarships
Thomas Beeker, The Bobby G Awards
Anna Zavelson, Las Casas Foundation’s Joci Awards
Joshua Thompson, Triangle Rising Stars
Symoné Spencer, Triangle Rising Stars
Dakota Lee Renteria, Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards
Sophie Pollono, The Jerry Herman Awards

Semifinalist Scholarships
Landry Barker, Broadway Dallas High School Musical Theatre Awards
Noah C. Bowers, Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards
Vera Brown, The Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards
Joshua Devine, Broadway Star of the Future
Angelis Gonzalez, Spotlight Awards – Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards
Hayden Henderson, Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards
Janiyah McAllister, Broadway Star of the Future
Ashley Woytal, Sutton Foster Awards

Best Dancer
Kylie Edwards, Gene Kelly Awards

Rising Star Award
Carl Robinett, The Rita Moreno Awards

Best Performance in an Ensemble
Jackson Chase, Applause Awards

Spirit of the Jimmys
Joshua Thompson, Triangle Rising Stars

Inspiring Teacher Awards
Ian Sullivan, Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg, North Carolina
Kristin Winchester, Durham School of the Arts in Durham, North Carolina