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Meet Your 2019 Jimmy Award Winners

Ekele Ukegbu and Ethan Kelso took home the top prizes at this year's high school musical-theater competition.

2019 Jimmy Award winners Ekele Ukegbu and Ethan Kelso.
(© Henry McGee/NHSMTA)

The winners of the 11th annual Jimmy Awards were named last night at the Minskoff Theatre where 86 high school students competed for the titles of Best Actor and Best Actress. Tony winner Ben Platt hosted the ceremony.

The awards were presented to Ekele Ukegbu (Roger Rees Awards for Excellence in Student Performance; New York) and Ethan Kelso (Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards; Logan, Utah). For their solo performances, Ukegbu sang "I'm Here" from The Color Purple while Kelso sang "Wondering" from The Bridges of Madison County. Both winners were presented with a check for $25,000 to further their education.

The remaining six finalists were Jessi Kirtley (Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards - The Shuler Hensley Awards; Atlanta), Casey Likes (ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards; Tempe, Arizona), Lexie Love, (5th Avenue Theatre Awards; Seattle), Colin Miller (Enchantment Awards; Albuquerque, New Mexico), Marisa Moenho (Lucie Arnaz Awards; Palm Springs, California), and Christian Spaay, (Jerry Awards; Madison, Wisconsin). Each received a $5,000 scholarship toward their future education.

Matthew Hinson (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Tasha Partee (Woodmere, New York) also received the Inspiring Teacher Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo, for the encouragement and inspiration that led their students to win the 2018 Jimmy Awards for Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor.

Monday's production was directed by Van Kaplan and choreographed by Kiesha Lalama. Michael Moricz was the musical arranger and conductor, and Mary Jane Brennan was the writer. All four have been with the Jimmy Awards for all 11 years of the program. The Wicked tribute was arranged by Ben Cohn with special guest director and choreographer Wayne Cilento.


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