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Applause Awards alumni joined this year's Outstanding Lead Performer winners for "Alexander Hamilton," the rousing opener from Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical. The participating 2015 winners include (left to right) Casey Gulledge, Christian Douglass, Spencer Croy, Emmanuel Gracia, Remell Bowens Jr. and Kendall Meyer. “Going to the Jimmys gives students an opportunity to per form on a Broadway stage,” says Dana Brazil, the arts center’s director of education. “For me, it’s not about the win — it’s about the opportunity.” ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� time in the Jimmys was a natural progression for the Applause Awards. Inspired by the Tonys, the program honors outstanding achievement in a variety of categories, including direction, design, choreography and stage management in addition to performance. Leading up to awards night, teams of theater professionals who serve as adjudicators are sent to evaluate the increasingly sophisticated musicals mounted by high schools in six Central Florida counties. This year, 41 productions at 28 high schools were judged. Some schools enter more than one production, 14 artsLife | FALL 2016 and some productions have more than one cast. Overall, about 2,500 students participated. Heistand was recognized for the title role in Mary Poppins, and for Cinderella in Into the Woods. Moreno was honored for his work as the Baker in Into the Woods and for Jamie in The Last Five Years, ���������������������� productions to receive an Applause Award for Outstanding Musical. Playing two leads in one school year requires versatility and extraordinary commitment. But beyond that, each role presented unique challenges for the performers. Heistand found that becoming the magical nanny required mastering the art of being stern yet gentle. Even when Mary tells her charges to stop complaining, she throws in a wink, Heistand says. And she picked up the Poppins accent by listening to recordings. “The British ac-


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