Talented So Cal students step into the spotlight, win Jerry Herman Awards for musical theater

George Pennacchio Image
Monday, June 5, 2023
Bright future for So Cal musical theater students
The annual Jerry Herman Awards honors the best in the world of high school musical theater. Ava Broneer and Kaylor Toronto are now headed to New York where they'll perform with other talented students on the Broadway stage.

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- It's a celebration of all things musical. The annual Jerry Herman Awards honors the best in the world of high school musical theater.

The all-star judging team included director Kenny Ortega and actress Cathy Rigby. They awarded Palos Verdes High School with the "Best Production" prize for "Something Rotten."

"The idea here is so powerful to support and mentor these young people, giving them a peek at their future," said Ortega. "It's one of my favorite things to do every year."

"The talent is amazing. It's difficult to decide who to pick," said Rigby. "They all have such potential in many different ways and its great fun."

ABC7's George Pennacchio had the honor of emceeing this annual event. This year, 33 area high schools competed in a variety of categories. Kaylor Toronto from Burbank's John Burroughs High School who was named best actor sees a bright, creative future.

"I think it's just more chances for me to make art. I just think that what makes people so beautiful is the ability to create things from their minds and from their hearts," said Toronto.

Ava Broneer, representing Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, received the best actress prize. She and Toronto won a trip to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards later this month.

"New York is my favorite place ever," said Broneer. "So I'm very excited. Very nervous, but excited to meet all these talented people that are going to be there."

"I'm just excited to talk to all these new people," said Toronto. "To meet the best of the best from everywhere around the country... that's pretty sweet!"

Jeff Loeb is the President of "Broadway in Hollywood" and feels this competition offers the students a once in a lifetime experience.

"I think it's that special magic that we take four years of their hard work, many of them are seniors, and we get to give two of them this incredible gift to perform on a Broadway stage," said Loeb.

They will do that on June 26.

Good luck!