2023 Jimmy Awards: Two Chicago-area high school students compete on Broadway

Payton Fraser and Will Gonzalez are competing Monday night

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Monday, June 26, 2023
Chicago-area high school students compete on Broadway for Jimmy Awards
Congratulations to Payton Fraser and Will Gonzalez, who are representing Illinois!

NEW YORK (WLS) -- The Jimmy Awards are presented in New York to the most promising musical theatre students in the nation.

Two Chicago-area teens are competing after winning Broadway In Chicago High School honors.

They have spent the week being coached by stage professionals, to perform on Broadway Monday night.

The young artists told Hosea Sanders about this chance of a lifetime on the Great White Way.

SEE MORE: Winners of Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards on road to Jimmy Awards, Broadway

Payton Fraser's world reflects her passion, the moments of her young life echoing the choice she's made for "always." Her musical "career" at Joliet West High School is Broadway-bound.

"Once I got the realization, I'm good at what I do and I can do this well and venturing out of my comfort zone, the feeling of being in the spotlight was, maybe this is OK after all," said Fraser, a Jimmy Awards finalist and musical theatre student.

She describes singing on stage as a world of its own.

RELATED: Joliet high school student Payton Fraser will perform on Broadway at Jimmy Awards

"Everything just disappears, you can't think of anything else on stage except what's going on in that exact moment," Fraser said. "Everything just melts away anything that was worrying me or stressing me out, the school work I have to do, it just goes away; that's all I have to do in that moment. I just have to be a good storyteller."

Will Gonzalez spent hours studying music, playing instruments and exploring his talent, and he's now winning awards for it.

The recent Mundelein High School graduate also excelled in sports, but found a home on stage.

"I just had to pick what I found that I could really see myself doing and what I really loved," said Gonzalez, a Jimmy Awards finalist and musical theatre student.

He said that his passion for theatre was stronger than it was for his other interests.

"I like baseball, but towards the end I was not prepared to give all my time and effort to it," Gonzalez said.

Even though theatre can be demanding work, Gonzalez said the final result makes everything worth it.

"I think it's just overwhelming joy whenever I feel that the audience was positively affected by a performance I did and it just makes all the pain of rehearsal and memorizing lines and practicing, it makes it all worth it," Gonzalez said.

Going to Broadway for the Jimmy Awards means more than Gonzalez can express.

ALSO SEE: Chicago-area actors finalists for Jimmy Awards in New York, heading to Broadway

"I think it will be very emotional coming from where I started -- this is the biggest deal of my life," Gonzalez said.

When asked whether she will do Chicago justice, Fraser had one enthusiastic word in response.

"Absolutely!" she said.

"The Jimmy Awards" YouTube channel and Facebook page will stream the event live from Broadway, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.