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Donald Braswell II: The Week Ahead, June, 30–July 6, 2014

Aria Braswell as Johanna in Sweeney Todd
Aria Braswell as Johanna in Sweeney Todd
Photo provided by Sandra Treviño. Used with permission.

Aria Braswell, daughter of performer Donald Braswell II, is in New York City working on the National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA) show taking place on June 30 at 7:30 in the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway and 45th street. She and 55 other nominees selected in 28 regional competitions across the country are vying for the coveted Best Actor and Best Actress awards known as the Jimmy™ Awards.

The Las Casas Foundation in San Antonio chose Miss Braswell and classmate Aaron Taylor as their finalist entries in the competition. This was the first year Las Casas participated in the NHSMTA program. That Foundation and 27 other organizations each selected one girl and one boy from over 60,000 students in more than 1500 high schools to send to NYC.

The very talented nominees this year are Aitana Alapa, Issac Arnet, Rubin Barksdale, Bethany Beckham, David T. Beran, English Bernhardt, Ryan Borgo, Aubree Bouché, Aria Braswell, Keenan Buckley, Jillian Caillouette, Jamie Colburn, Maureen Edwards, Alvis Green, Jr., D'arcy Green, Emily Hadick, Matthew Haught, Nathanael Hicks, Michael Hudak, Jai'len Josey, Conner Kingsley, Jeffrey, Laughrun, Mekhai Lee, Emily Michele Lewis, Sarah Liddy, Samuel Long, Emma Magbanua, Maclean Mayers, Brendan McAlester, Abby McLachlan, Kaycee Murto, Abigail Noble, Jonathan Norwood, Marnie Quick, Jonah Rawitz, Tyler Alexander, Deanna Richard, Matthew Richards, Maddie Roberts, Rachael Robertson, Aliya Ryan, Shane Satterfielf, Brooke Solan, Ayla Stackhouse, Staci Stout, Aaron Taylor, Steven Ryan Telsey, Jonathan Turner, Sophia Tzougros, Ashlyn Uribe, Joshua Velez, Matthew Washington, Nyles Washington, Julia Lindsey Whitcomb, Madison Willis, Eli Wills.

Entrants were selected based on their lead performances in their high school's productions. Aria won with her performance as Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Aaron was picked for his portrayal of Seaweed in Hairspray, both produced at NESA.

Judging for the Awards will be done by industry experts Scott Ellis (multi-Tony Award®-nominated director); Kent Gash (New Studio on Broadway, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama); Rachel Hoffman (Telsey + Company); Arielle Tepper Madover (Tony Award-winning producer); Tara Rubin (Tara Rubin Casting), and Nick Scandalios (Nederlander Organization)

2011 Jimmy™ Award winner, Ryan McCartan will host the 2 hour showcase. McCartan is a recurring character on USA Networks Royal Pains, is a the regular Diggy on Liv & Maddi on the Disney Channel and recently starred as JD in the Off-Broadway hit musical, Heathers.

The 56 nominees are undergoing intensive training at NYU Tisch School of the Arts' New Studio with the guidance of Broadway professionals to present the show on Monday. The Broadway Education Alliance produces the Awards.

Blogging on the NHSMTA website says after flying in on Wednesday, the students had their first day on Thursday which included a Papa John's pizza party and hours of rehearsals mostly for the opening number. Today, Friday, in rehearsals they met in their medley groups and blocked the opening and closing numbers. Some solo coaching began.

“At lunch, they were treated with a talk back with famous composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin,Godspell)! After more rehearsing, the nominees took a break for a fun night out on the town to see the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots with dinner at Sardi’s beforehand.”

Monday night NHSMTA will announce the overall winners (one boy and one girl) picked from six finalists determined prior to the show. Each participant has already won scholarships and is hoping to earn more by winning one of the two $10,000 scholarship awards from this week's event.

Wishing all these brilliant students well. They are all winners!

What: National High School Musical Theater Awards 2014 show.
June 30, 2014
Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Minskoff Theatre, 200 West 45th Street, New York City, New York
Tickets: Available on Ticketmaster. (It is nearly sold out.)

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