MusicWorks gets the gold at festival
Twenty-three singer/dancer/actors from MusicWorks! Studio of Performing Arts participated in the invitation-only 2012 Junior Theater Festival, Jan. 13-15 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Ga. The talented young people representing MusicWorks, ages 6.5-17, performed selections from "Godspell" Jr. for adjudication by a panel of distinguished theater professionals and received a Gold rating status, falling only 2 points short of Platinum. Two MusicWorks students, Ben Sears and Brynna Sinyard, won awards for Outstanding Student Choreography and Student Directing. Kara White and Ben Sears were also selected by the adjudication panel to be a part of the 2012 “Festival All Stars”. Two addition MusicWorks students, Cade Leslie and Leah Rogers, were selected to participate in one of the weekend highlights, the Saturday "SLAM".
The members of the MusicWorks group include Marina Battenfeld, Keely Cherry, Jessica Clifford, Sophia Fox, Roselyn Lasley, Cade Leslie, Sydney Lyles, Mary Ashley McCrory, Marleigh Meadows, Morgan Meadows, Reagan Mulvey, Lily Paschke, Leah Rogers, Ben Sears, Brynna Sinyard, Jessica Smith, Hailey Stewart, Madison Stewart, Madison Sugg, Julia Turpin, Rebekah Vertrees, Elisabeth Walt, and Kara White.
The Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest musical theater festival dedicated to groups working with elementary and middle school students that is presented by New York City’s iTheatrics and Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars and sponsored by Music Theatre International and Disney Musicals. The festival brings together more than 3,000 students, teachers and Broadway professionals to raise their voices in celebration of on-stage and backstage excellence in musical theater.
Featuring 60 groups from 18 states, the 2012 Junior Theater Festival offers an enthusiastic environment for students and teachers to interact with thousands of others who share their passion for musical theater. Students and teachers participated in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals, gained from professional development, enjoyed theatrical fellowship and attended a world-class professional production of “Annie” at the Fox Theatre. Student techies worked side-by-side with festival staff in running all aspects of the festival experience.
Award winning ANNIE creators Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin traveled to the festival to accept the 2012 Junior Theater Festival Award recognizing their contributions toward the advancement of musical theater for young people. In 1995, MTI Chairman Freddie Gershon partnered with Meehan, Strouse and Charnin to premiere Annie JR., which launched Broadway Junior, the first educational division in a major musical theater licensing firm, which over the past 16 years has transformed the marketplace for age-appropriate performance material for young performers.
NBC’s new series “Smash” sponsored “‘Smash’ Sunday,” on Sunday, January 15th, a full day of activities for all 3,000+ festival attendees as part of a philanthropic partnership between NBC’s “Smash” and iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project. The show offered a sneak peek at the new series in advance of its Monday, February 6th (10:00 pm Eastern) network premiere. “‘Smash’ Sunday” activities included the Broadway Junior Slam (a challenge in which students and teachers who have not met were to stage and present a scene and song from a musical in one hour), the technical theatre showcase and adjudication, the choreography DVD call backs, the Hero award presentation and the Closing Celebration. Additionally, in the spirit of inspiring students in their respective productions, the show provided tickets for all JTF participants to see a professional production of ANNIE at the fabulous Fox Theatre.
NBC’s “Smash” follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who want to be part of a new Broadway musical: from the successful songwriting duo Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle) and Julia (Emmy award winner Deborah Messing, Will & Grace) and Julia’s husband (Brian d’Arcy James); to Midwestern beauty (Katharine McPhee, American Idol); tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner Angelica Huston), a former tv sitcom star (Nick Jonas) and a brilliant director (Jack Davenport). The show is produced by Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and features music by Tony and Grammy award-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray).
Other Broadway celebrities who held seminars at the festival included Broadway director, choreographer and performer Baayork Lee (A Chorus Line, Promises, Promises, Flower Drum Song, The King and I) and director, producer, choreographer and performer Jeff Calhoun (Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde, Disney’s High School Musical, Deaf West’s Big River).
MusicWorks! Studio of Performing Arts was established in 2002 by Lynne Wells-Meyer with the objective to provide children and young adults the opportunity to discover and express their talents in the performing arts. Through enrollment in drama, dance and music classes, group master classes, private lessons and participation in stage productions, students also develop public speaking skills, build self confidence, focus and self-esteem.