Gershwin Awards Honor Best High Schoolers With Broadway Dreams

Local high school students took part in the musical theater-based Gershwin Awards in Chelsea on Saturday. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.

Potential Broadway stars of tomorrow gathered in Chelsea on Saturday for the second-annual Gershwin Awards, a competition for more than a dozen students from area high schools.

The ceremony was helmed by Susan Lee, the executive director of the National High School Musical Theater Awards.

"We invited over 100 of the high schools in the area to nominate their leading actress and leading actor and that's how the nominee pool came together," said Lee.

Produced by Camp Broadway and CAP21, the Gershwin Awards were created to celebrate aspiring musical theater performers. The nominated young artists performed songs for a panel of industry professionals.

David Chase, the music supervisor and arranger for the Gershwin Broadway musical "Nice Work If You Can Get It," served as one of the three judges.

"When I heard it was celebrating great high school talent I said this is perfect, because I was inspired to go into this business by having had a fantastic high school drama teacher," said Chase.

Kyra Leeds from Townsend Harris High School in Queens won the Best Actress award and Joshua Schwartz from Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn won the best actor award. Javan Zapata from Susan Wagner High School on Staten Island won the Up-and-comer award.

All three students received scholarships to continue their theater education.

"I loved working with everybody and I'm happy for the other two nominees that won," said Zapata.

"I've never felt anything like I'm feeling right now," said Schwartz.

"It gives me the chance to work on my craft more, just to keep doing it," said Leeds. "Keep performing, keep learning, making connections, it's incredible.

Leeds and Schwartz will go on to compete for the National High School Musical Theater Awards on June 25 at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. For more information on the Gershwin Awards, visit

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