The Minskoff Theatre is typically home to the mega-Broadway hit The Lion King. However, on Monday, June 1, 62 talented young performers took over the theater, making their Broadway debuts as finalists of the 2013 National High School Musical Theater Awards. The honors are nicknamed the Jimmys, after Broadway legend James Nederlander. After only five days of preparation, the finalists performed for a packed Broadway audience in two large group numbers as well as a number of smaller group numbers that showcased each of their talents. Two of these finalists snapped some photos of some of their favorite moments from this five-day journey and gave us a peek into what inspired their personal Broadway dreams.

John Clay III, courtesy of the Jimmy Awards
John Clay III, courtesy of the Jimmy Awards
John Clay III
The Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards

Hometown/Age:
Oak Park, Illinois
Age: 18

Tell us about the experience that got you hooked on musical theater.
It was a bet between my friend and me to do the 8th grade musical: Grease. I did it, and I've been hooked ever since.

What would you want to do professionally if you didn't become an actor?
....Wouldn't live. It's my life and I invest so much time into it.

Who is your Broadway crush?
Audra McDonald

What is the first showtune you ever learned to sing? How old were you? Who did you perform it for?
"Sandy" in 8th grade. It was my first musical and I was Danny Zuko in Grease.

Ryne Nardecchia, courtesy of the Jimmy Awards
Ryne Nardecchia, courtesy of the Jimmy Awards
Ryne Nardecchia
Tommy Tune Awards

Hometown/Age:
Houston, TX
Age: 18

Tell us about the experience that got you hooked on musical theater.
I was in a fifteen-minute adaptation of Annie. I was the only boy surrounded by twenty-five girls. It was awesome.

What would you want to do professionally if you didn't become an actor?
Well, I've been told most actors double as therapists because of their understanding of humans, so I'd probably be a therapist.

Who is your Broadway crush?
Laura Osnes or Cristin Milioti

What is the first showtune you ever learned to sing? How old were you? Who did you perform it for?
"Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast. I was 11 and I performed it for an audition at a small theater tucked behind a car wash.