When John Burroughs High graduate Josh Strobl walked on stage at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway this week, he walked away with a top theatrical honor.
Strobl, who graduated last month, won the National High School Musical Theatre Awards' Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor.
He was one of 61 students from across the country invited to perform Monday night at the theater, where the Broadway musical "The Lion King" is currently playing.
Strobl's award comes with a $10,000 scholarship, but it was his experience of walking backstage at the Minskoff Theatre and performing in front of an audience full of Tony Award winners and industry giants, including Andrew Lloyd Weber, that made for a "life-changing" night, he said.
After he wowed the panel of judges with his solo performance of "Maria" and they announced he had won the "Best Actor" honor, he was overcome with emotion, he said when reached by phone on Tuesday.
"It was afterwards that emotions flew through me. I bawled. I left everything up on that stage," he said.
During each of his four years at Burroughs, Strobl was part of Burroughs' elite Powerhouse choir, which is a rare feat for students, said Brendan Jennings, director of the school's Vocal Music Assn.
"He was pretty much featured in every one of our shows in some way," Jennings said, adding Strobl often performed solos and was voted by his peers to lead the choir as president during his senior year.
Jennings said he knew the national contest was going to be competitive, but he wasn't surprised when he learned Strobl had won.
"I really do believe in him, and I think he's incredible," Jennings said. "I'm very proud of him, and he totally deserves it."
To celebrate his win, Strobl and his family walked across the street from the Minskoff Theatre to eat at John's Pizzeria.
As word spread of his accomplishment back home, friends and loved ones flooded his phone with messages of support.
"It's overwhelming," Strobl said. "I received probably about 200 text messages [Monday night] just congratulating me. You don't really realize how many people support you until you get that 'Congratulations!' I was really feeling the love."
In the fall, Strobl plans to study musical theater at the University of Michigan.
After graduating from college, he plans to move to New York City and audition for roles on Broadway.
"That's the ultimate goal," he said.
Kelly Corrigan, email@example.com