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Theater Notebook: Two high school teens headed to New York from Broadway San Diego awards

Kendall Becerra and Ryan Sweeney, second and third from right, learn they've won the 2022 Broadway San Diego Awards.
Kendall Becerra and Ryan Sweeney, second and third from right, react to the news they’ve won the 2022 Broadway San Diego Awards on May 29 at the Balboa Theatre.
(Broadway San Diego)

Also this week: News from Diversionary Theatre, Moonlight Stage Productions, Scripps Ranch Theatre and Lamb’s Players Theatre

Kendall Becerra, a senior at Coronado School of the Arts, and Ryan Sweeney, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, are headed to Broadway to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, better known as the Jimmy Awards, on June 27.

Becerra and Sweeney are the winners of the 2022 Broadway San Diego Awards, an annual competition for high school theater students in San Diego County, which returned to a live competition this year after being canceled in 2020 and conducted virtually in 2021.

Ryan Sweeney performs in the finals at the Broadway San Diego Awards on May 29 at the Balboa Theatre.
(Ken Jacques)

Winners from 40 regional award programs compete at the Jimmy Awards each summer at the Minskoff Theatre in Manhattan. Of the 140,000 eligible students nationwide, about 90 make it the Jimmys each year to compete for two awards: best actor or best actress in a musical. Winners receive a cash scholarship (in 2019, the prize was $25,000).

The local awards, and the winners’ trip costs to New York, are sponsored by Broadway San Diego, a division of the Nederlander Organization, one of the nation’s largest entertainment venue owners and operators. The Jimmys are named after company CEO and producer James “Jimmy” Nederlander, who died in 2016.

In the fall, Becerra plans to attend Marymount Manhattan College, where she will study musical theater. She said she’s wanted to be in musicals since she was in kindergarten and has wanted to take part in the Jimmys since she started high school.

Kendall Becerra performs in the finals at the Broadway San Diego Awards on May 29 at the Balboa Theatre.
(Ken Jacques)

“My freshman year of High School, a Coronado School of the Arts alumnus who went to the Jimmys gave us the whole rundown, and since then I have dreamed of performing at the Minskoff, but I never thought it would become a reality,” she said. "

Sweeney is part of Canyon Crest’s Envision Theatre Arts program. In the fall, he will attend Baldwin Wallace University, a liberal arts college in Ohio, where he plans to study musical theater and composition.

“I really dream to be able one day to use the theatrical arts to inspire people, just as I was inspired as a freshman in high school,” he said.

They were among 19 semifinalists hand-picked from more than 70 regional high schools who spent a week in workshops, coaching and performance training leading up to the competition May 28-29 at the Balboa Theatre. The awards program is led by artistic director Joey Landwehr.

Sweeney and Becerra were chosen from a field of six finalists, who included Anthony Graf of Cathedral Catholic High School, Ben Jimenez of La Jolla High, Emma Ragen of La Jolla Country Day School and Sage Taylor of Elite Academic Academy. Full disclosure: I’ve been on the volunteer judging team for the BSD awards for many years.

To follow the local winners’ progress at the Jimmys, visit jimmyawards.com.

A scene from "The Hunt" ta Scripps Ranch Theatre's 2019 Out on a Limb new play festival.
A scene from the play “The Hunt” in Scripps Ranch Theatre’s 2019 Out on a Limb new play festival.
(Daren Scott)

Scripps Ranch announces ‘Out on a Limb’ lineup

Scripps Ranch Theatre will close its 42nd season later this month with its Out on a Limb — New Plays from America’s Finest City festival. Founded in 2011 by Robert May, the festival program returns after a pandemic break with new works by California playwrights. The four winning one-act plays will be presented together in a single program at 8 p.m. June 24 and 25, and at 2 p.m. June 26.

The featured plays are Raegan Payne’s “Chameleon,” about God having a crisis of confidence; Thomas J. Misuraca’s “Go Fish,” about a woman worried that her elderly mother who lives alone has gone round the bend; Marilyn Harris Kriegel’s “Fidelity,” about how complicated the truth can be; and Christian St. Croix’s “We Lovers,” about a group of people who gather in Balboa Park to share their cinematic love stories. Tickets are $10 to $20 at scrippsranchtheatre.org.

Moonlight revamps ‘Cinderella’ schedule

Moonlight Stage Productions canceled the first two performances of its run of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” musical at the Moonlight Amphitheatre due to a few members of its cast testing positive for COVID. Originally scheduled to open Wednesday, June 8, “Cinderella” will now open Saturday, June 10. To make up the dates for ticket-holders of the canceled performances, two new performances have been added on Tuesday evenings. People with tickets for the June 8 show will rescheduled to Tuesday, June 14, and ticketholders for the June 9 performance will be rescheduled to Tuesday, June 21. Those who can’t attend on the new dates can contact VisTix at (7600 724-2110.

Diversionary and Lamb’s extend shows

Two local theaters have announced extensions of ongoing musical productions. Diversionary Theatre has extended its world premiere musical “Eighty-Sixed” until June 26, and Lamb’s Players Theatre has extended its musical “Million Dollar Quartet” through July 24. For tickets, visit diversionary.org or lambsplayers.org.

Seinfeld back in San Diego

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will return to San Diego in the fall, with two shows, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Sept. 16, at the San Diego Civic Theatre. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 10 at broadwaysd.com.

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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