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Students who have performed with Kaitlyn Majewski in high school or at McKeesport Little Theater joined the watch party for the 2023 Jimmy Awards to show their support. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
An enthusiastic group of friends, family and fellow performers gathered at McKeesport Area High School’s auditorium on Monday night to view a live stream of the 2023 Jimmy Awards.
The collaborative effort between McKeesport Little Theater and McKeesport Area School District enabled those who could not travel to New York City to support 2023 grad Kaitlyn Majewski to cheer her on as she performed as part of the competition that recognizes excellence in high school musical theatre.
Majewski and Elizabeth Forward High School student Tyler Guinto-Brody qualified for the Jimmys after being named best actress and best actor, respectively, during Pittsburgh’s Gene Kelly Awards in May.
Sometimes described as “the Tony Awards for teen-agers,” the National High School Musical Theatre Awards — known as the Jimmy Awards — have been presented since 2009 by The Broadway League, the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and the Nederlander Alliances, which produces live theater.
The 14th annual Jimmy Awards ceremony was hosted by Corbin Bleu, perhaps best known for his role in Disney’s “High School Musical” series, but who has gone on to much acclaim as a singer, songwriter, actor, and producer.
Bleu repeatedly encouraged and praised the group of 96 finalists representing programs in 31 states for their efforts and performances during a whirlwind week of activities and instruction from industry experts in preparation for the awards show.
As one of the presenters pointed out, those students came from a group of more than 140,000 performers eligible based on their respective roles in their local high school musicals.
Majewski qualified after portraying Natalie Haller/Ed in McKeesport Area’s “All Shook Up,” while Guinto-Brody qualified as Quasimodo in Elizabeth Forward’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
After a preliminary evaluation, students were divided into groups to showcase their talents in various ways for a final live determination by the judges to select eight semi-finalists and eight finalists, all awarded monetary scholarships.
Opening and closing number, a medley of Broadway tunes with a rotating main soloist, a tribute to touring Broadway, and even a Shakespeare segment rounded out the show.
Selections featured such diverse characters as Lola from “Kinky Boots,” Sebastian Crab from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” Phantom from “Phantom of the Opera,” and Roxie from “Chicago.”
Students represented musicals ranging from classics like “Oklahoma!” and to “Newsies,” “In the Heights,” “Zombie Prom,” “Mean Girls,” and “Matilda.”
Whenever Majewski appeared, her supporters cheered loudly, even recording a video message for her before the show began. Those familiar with Guinto-Brody’s area ties applauded for him, too.
Majewski had a wide age range of supporters because, in addition to her roles in the high school musical as Ariel, Donna Sheridan, and Natalie Haller, she has appeared on local stages in McKeesport Little Theater’s Juniors program and in mainstage productions from the time she was in fifth grade.
Notable roles include Elsa in “Frozen Jr.,” Gertrude McFuzz in “Seussical,” and Cinderella in “Into the Woods.”
She’s also been dancing since she was 3, adding choreographer to her credits through McKeesport Little Theater.
In a Facebook posting Tuesday, McKeesport Little Theater extended appreciation and congratulations to Majewski.
“McKeesport Little Theater is beyond proud of our longtime Juniors actor Kaitlyn Majewski for her performance on the Minskoff Stage,” it said. “Thank you, Kaitlyn, for representing our community and the Pittsburgh CLO’s Gene Kelly Awards on Broadway.”
Winners of the top award, including $25,000, were Langston Lee of Austin, Texas, for Best Performance by an Actor as Dmitry in “Anastasia,” and Lauren A. Marchand of New York City for Best Performance by an Actress as Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.” The Jimmy Awards show can be viewed through June 29, via YouTube and Facebook.
Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a contributing writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published June 27, 2023.