Eli Talley, a 2022 graduate of Ringgold High School, is one of two Georgia high school students who will represent the state at the national 2022 Jimmy Awards.

Eli Talley, who graduated in May from Ringgold High, will represent the state in the best performance by an actor category, while Georgia Thomas, who recently graduated from Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, will compete in the best performance by an actress category,

Both students earned their tickets to New York through the 2022 Shuler Awards — the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards — organized by ArtsBridge Foundation and held April 21. Thomas won for her performance in the title role of “Anastasia” while Talley performed — and earned runner-up honors — as Frank Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can.”

Talley’s spot for the Jimmy Awards competition recently opened when 2022 Shuler Awards winner Nicholas Alexander Wilkinson II of Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Ga., voluntarily withdrew from The Jimmy Awards in order to join his classmates who were invited to perform “Fela!” at the International Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Ind., next month. Wilkinson won the Shuler Award in the title role, while the overall production of “Fela!” won 2022 Shuler Awards for direction and choreography by Jade Lambert-Smith and Briana Bunkley.

As the leading actress and actor entrants, respectively, Thomas and Talley will represent Georgia in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program named The Jimmy Awards and participate in this year’s 13th annual awards show at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on June 27, with merit scholarships and professional opportunities up for grabs. In addition to performing in the awards ceremony, students will participate in master classes and receive training and preparation with Broadway coaches and accomplished professionals.

“With Georgia and Eli, our state has two rock stars heading to the Jimmy Awards,” said Beth Lenhart, ArtsBridge Foundation director of arts education. “We applaud Nicholas for joining the production of ‘Fela!’ at the festival, which will also showcase Georgia’s deep bench of high school musical theatre talent on another national stage. To all these student performers, we jovially and enthusiastically exclaim, break a leg!”

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