Memphis Students Take on Broadway

The Orpheum is the perfect place to ignite a passion in someone who enjoys theatre. Its rich history, accompanied by the continuation of shared stories, ideas, and art, is sure to set up a young kid’s lifetime of love for the theatre.

Most recently, high-school students from 38 different schools across three states gathered at the historic Orpheum.

The evening was a culmination of a year-long program bringing students from all over the Mid-South together for an intensive week of team building, collaboration, and celebration of musical theatre. Students and supporters gathered to celebrate their peers forming on the Orpheum stage and supported the work behind the scenes. 

Among the talented students that were celebrated, two notable scholars received awards for Lead Actress and Actor.  

Memphis' Own Lead actors

Vera Brown

Best Actress

Crosstown High School

Brima Gassama

Best Actor

Germantown High School

These two hard-working, talented individuals will go on to represent The Orpheum High School Musical Awards at the National High School Musical Awards (The Jimmy Awards) at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway on Monday, June 27th. 

So Yes, Memphis is taking over broadway.

Presented by the Broadway League Foundation, the program sends the Lead Actress and Lead Actor to New York for a week-long theatre intensive consisting of coaching, rehearsals with industry professionals, and a taste of the big city!

The Theatre Department director at Crosstown High, Ryan Pryor, gave us some insight into what this means for the school and the city of Memphis. 

“To have a student on Broadway is electric. Only around 50 students get nominated for the Jimmy Awards, so this is incredible for Crosstown High,” Ryan told us. 

Crosstown High recently celebrated a milestone with its very first graduating class EVER. The school is distinctly different from other local schools because it’s part of the XQ Institute.

Their goal is to rethink learning by using arts and culture to impact the community. Theatre at Crosstown is an incredibly important part of the after-school curriculum.

At Crosstown, students are not just participating; they serve as active leaders and designers. “Usually, I have students design and build sets and direct shows while I take a step back, observe, critique, and advise,” Ryan said.

Three recently graduated seniors choose to pursue theatre arts in their college degree programs.

Vera Brown is a prime example of how pushing students to explore their creativity can do leaps and bounds for their future.

Vera was not only the first student director at Crosstown as she produced and directed “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” Vera was extraordinarily multifaceted and starred in her show. This secured her ticket to Broadway and a lifetime of opportunities ahead. 

"She deserved every bit of it as she has devoted her life to that production in every way."
Ryan Pryor
Theatre Director at Crosstown High

Congratulations to BOTH of these outstanding students. Memphis will be rooting for you when you take the stage in New York!  

Tune into the Jimmy Awards at 6:30PM on Monday, June 27th. 

Want to learn more about Crosstown High?

Want to learn more about the National High School Musical Theatre Awards?

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