Applause Awards Program

Celebrate Florida’s most talented high school musical students.

A panel of 30 statewide casting agents have selected nearly 400 students from 30 high schools and nine counties to participate in this high-energy evening—featuring live performances of winners in the Outstanding Musical category and culminating in the announcement of the Outstanding Lead Male and Female Performers.

Modeled after the Tony Awards®, the Applause Awards will be directed by Broadway veteran Ray Roderick and hosted by award winning Broadway and TV actress/singer Rachel York. Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be given to college-bound seniors. Two overall winners will advance to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, known as The Jimmy Awards®, for an opportunity of a lifetime to compete among the next generation of Broadway stars in New York City.

Meet Our Jimmy Nominee Winners



Samantha Nelson
Jackson Chase
(Won Best Performance in an Ensemble at the Jimmy Awards)


Shina Mitchell
Miguel Gil


Hannah Restuccia
Thomas Dyer


Kristen Brock
John Zamborski
(Won Best Dancer at the Jimmy Awards)


Sofia Deler (Jimmy Awards Winner)
Tony Moreno (Jimmy Awards Winner)


Emma Heistand
Tony Moreno

Recognizing everyone from set and costume designers to lead actors and actresses, the Applause Awards is a true celebration of all things musical theater. Honoring excellence in high school productions is just the beginning. This program also advocates for the importance of the arts by creating access for students and schools in our community—many of which are Title I.

Through the Applause Awards, they receive valuable feedback and enjoy amazing learning opportunities—like master classes led by touring Broadway artists and performance training workshops—giving them a space to work with their peers and sharpen their skills.


August through April, industry experts review registered productions from 30 high schools in nine Florida counties. Their detailed reviews are then used to determine awards in specific categories, and Dr. Phillips Center hosts a ceremony in June on the Walt Disney Theater stage.

But it gets even better. Many participants are awarded college scholarships. And every year, one lead actor and one lead actress from the Applause Awards go on to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA)—also known as The Jimmy Awards®—in New York City.

2023 Applause Awards Participating Schools

Bishop Moore Catholic School

Boone High School

Circle Christian School

Cornerstone Charter Academy

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Dr. Phillips High School

East Ridge High School

Edgewater High School

Evans High School

Freedom High School

Hagerty High School

Horizon High School

Lake Brantley High School

Lake Highland Preparatory School

Lake Minneola High School

Lake Nona High School

Masters Academy

Melbourne High School

Montverde Academy

Osceola County School for the Arts

Spruce Creek High School

St. Augustine High School

St. Johns Country Day School

The First Academy

Tavares High School

Timber Creek High School

Tocoi High School

Tohopekaliga High School

Trinity Preparatory School

University High School

West Orange High School

Windermere High School

Windermere Preparatory School

Winter Park High School