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Actress stars in local and professional shows

Leah Matlin, Features Editor

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Sophomore Carly Meyer performs in a medley group at the Jimmy Awards on June 26, 2017. During the medley, Meyer sang her solo from the Glenbrook Musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was one of the 10 people in her medley group.
Photo courtesy of Broadway League Inc.
Photo by Henry McGee

This past summer, sophomore Carly Meyer made her Broadway debut at the Jimmy Awards, a national theater competition for high school students, in addition to performing in the world premiere production of “TREVOR the Musical.”

She is 15 years old.

According to Meyer, the Jimmy Awards is a competition for teenagers who win Best Actress and Actor at their specific state awards. The winners at the state level are nominated and sent to New York to participate in a week of workshops and training. On the final night, the nominees perform at the Jimmy Awards.

“The Jimmy Awards [was] the craziest thing of my entire life,” said Meyer. “We [worked] from dawn to dusk.”

Before the Jimmy Awards, Meyer said she played Hodel in the Glenbrook musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

John Knight, director of “Fiddler on the Roof,” said for each high school musical, if a student plays an eligible role with a solo, they can submit themselves for consideration to the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as IHSMTA, sponsored by Broadway in Chicago.

“[There were] 12 males and 12 females [chosen] to compete at the Illinois [High School] Musical Theatre Awards,” Knight said.

According to Meyer, she learned acting tips and choreography from theater professionals at IHSMTA. Later that day, she competed by performing two solos: one of her choice and one from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I got picked as top three [by the judges] which [made me] ecstatic because I was the only sophomore there, so like, I definitely felt a little bit out of place because I was younger,” said Meyer. “But everybody was so nice and supportive, [and] from there I won [Best Actress at IHSMTA], which was insane.”

Rachel Reiner, executive producer of the Jimmy Awards ceremony, said in a phone interview that during the week, students had coaching sessions with Broadway professionals.

According to Meyer, it was incredible to work with the Broadway professionals because she learned different acting techniques and ways to improve her performance.

“Meeting [the professionals] was [nerve-racking], but then, once you worked with them, you realize that they’re people just like you,” said Meyer. “Theyreally want you to succeed.”

According to Reiner, the 74 nominees first performed in one of four medley groups or in a production group at the Jimmy Awards. Then finalists were selected by judges and performed solos. Meyer performed in a medley group but was not selected as a finalist.

“If you were performing in a medley, you were performing a small selection from … your local high school production,” Reiner said.

Meyer said the Jimmy Awards was one of the most unique experiences of her life.

“Everybody there was insanely talented and super kind at the same time,” said Meyer. “Everybody there understood that it was a competition, but we were all there to learn, which was awesome.”

Meyer said she was able to learn new ways to portray characters through song.

“I feel like this was taken as a learning experience because I didn’t see the Jimmy Awards as something that I needed to win,” said Meyer. “It was something that [I will] remember for the rest of my life.”

In addition to making her Broadway debut at the Jimmy Awards, Meyer said she was in the ensemble of the cast of “TREVOR the Musical,” a professional production at the Writers Theatre in Glencoe.

Marc Bruni, director of “TREVOR the Musical,” said in a phone interview that Meyer has a commitment to “finding the truth of the character.”

“From the very beginning, [Meyer] was a standout,” said Bruni. “She’s got a fantastic voice and is a very vivid actress.”

According to Meyer, performing in “TREVOR the Musical” really showed her what it meant to be in the theater business.

“It’s not all fun and games,” said Meyer. “It’s really difficult, and you have to grow up and learn how to balance homework.”

Meyer said her favorite memory was one show when she tripped over her feet and wiped out on stage.

“[It] was very embarrassing because obviously the entire audience can see you,” said Meyer. “But then [after the show], instead of being like, ‘Oh, she messed up’ or anything like that, we were all laughing and having a fun time.”

According to Meyer, she has to work hard every day for her accomplishments because nothing has come to her out of luck.

“I’m hoping to continue in the school shows and continue on with professional theater … because I love theater more than anything in my life,” Meyer said.

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Actress stars in local and professional shows