Arts Camp alumna Gretchen Shope wins 2024 Jimmy Award

Shope received the Best Performance by an Actress award after performing songs from ‘Alice by Heart’ and ‘Funny Girl’ live for a panel of musical theatre luminaries.

Gretchen Shope in the summer 2023 Musical Theatre Showcase

Jimmy Award winner Gretchen Shope performs in Interlochen Arts Camp’s Musical Theatre Showcase during the summer of 2023.

Interlochen Arts Camp alumna Gretchen Shope (IAC 23) was recently selected as the winner of the 15th annual Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress. As the winner of the award, Shope received a $25,000 cash prize to further her musical theatre career.

A resident of Midland, Michigan, Shope advanced to the national competition for high school musical theatre artists after winning the 2024 Sutton Foster Award from the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. On June 24, Shope joined 101 students from across the nation at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre for a live competition and awards ceremony hosted by Arts Camp alumnus Josh Groban (IAC 97-98).

In the first half of the program, competitors were divided into small groups to perform medleys of songs from Broadway musicals. Shope performed “I’ve Shrunk Enough” from Alice by Heart as part of Broadway Medley #2.

Arts Camp alumna Victoria Clark (IAC/NMC 77) and her Kimberly Akimbo co-star Justin Cooley introduced the final number of the first half, the “Dreamers and Dreams” medley.

During intermission, a panel of musical theatre luminaries—including composer Alan Menken, Tony Award-winning actor James Monroe Iglehart, casting director Tara Rubin, and Tony Award-nominated actress Montego Glover—selected eight finalists to present solo performances.

Groban opened the program’s second half by announcing the eight finalists for the 2024 Jimmy Awards. Before calling the names of the finalists, Groban encouraged those who were not selected by reflecting on his audition for Sweeney Todd at Interlochen Arts Camp.

“I auditioned, I put my best Sweeney face on, and I was put in the ensemble. And you know what? It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Groban told the young performers. “I really believe that if I had gotten that role at 14 years old, I would not have had the chance to play it on Broadway, because it showed me the work that I had to do. The win for me was just being on stage, because someone else’s finish line was my starting point. My wish for all of you is to learn from tonight and use it to discover your own potential.”

Shope performed “Music That Makes Me Dance” from Funny Girl in the final round of the competition. She was announced as the winner of the Best Performance by an Actress award a few minutes later.

“There’s a quote from Alice by Heart that I want to share with you: ‘Sometimes,’ Alice said, ‘I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast,’” Shope said in her acceptance speech. “I didn’t believe this impossible thing was going to happen before breakfast, during breakfast, or after breakfast. But if this isn’t Wonderland, I don't know what is.”

Established in 2009 by Pittsburgh CLO and Nederlander Alliances, the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (also known as the Jimmy Awards) celebrate outstanding student achievement in vocal, dance, and acting performance. Each year, approximately 100,000 students compete in qualifying competitions sponsored by more than 40 professional theatres across the United States. The program, which is named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander and administered by the Broadway League Foundation, Inc., has awarded more than $6 million in educational scholarships to deserving young performers since its inception. Previous Jimmy Award winners include Reneé Rapp (Mean Girls, Broadway), Tony Moreno (The Book of Mormon, Broadway), and Josh Strobl (The Outsiders, Broadway), among others.