Area students compete at Jimmy Awards in NYC

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Jimmy Awards took place Monday night in New York City honoring high school musical theatre students from across the country -- and two from here in Wisconsin were among those invited.

For each the past three years, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton has been a part of the Jimmy Awards in selecting two students to go.

"The Jimmy Awards are the national high school musical theatre awards. We have our center stage high school musical theatre program that feeds into the Jimmy's, so all year these kids have been participating and going to workshops," said Trisha Witt, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

This year the two students selected were Matthew Wautier-Rodriguez of Green Bay Southwest High School and Kyra Hietpas of Little Chute High School.

They're among 86 students who arrived last week in New York and have been working with Broadway producers, directors and casting agents as part of a unique learning experience which includes putting on a show at the Minskoff theatre, home of Disney's "The Lion King."

Wautier-Rodriguez told us by phone, "It was crazy to work with a past winner from last year who is now on Broadway, and the whole week we just kind of have been rehearsing our group numbers, working on our solos and then that ended with a big audition that ended last night."

So far more than $2 million in scholarship money has been given out through the Jimmy Awards.

"It was an actual dream come true," Hietpas told us by phone. "The first time I stepped out on that stage, and looked out, I just started crying because I've seen shows on Broadway and I've seen people on Broadway and I just thought that I could never be there."

Both students say this experience is likely to give them a jump start when they go off to college this fall to expand on their musical theatre education.