By Lynne Meyer | Jan 28, 2013
Courtesy of: Angie Sugg The members of MusicWorks following adjudications at 2013 Junior Theater Festival.

Twenty-nine talented students from MusicWorks! Studio of Performing Arts participated in the invitation-only 2013 Junior Theater Festival, Jan. 18-20 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Ga. The Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest musical theater festival dedicated to groups working with elementary though high school students and 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 4,000 students, teachers and Broadway professionals to raise their voices in celebration of on-stage and backstage excellence in musical theater.  The 2013 MusicWorks group members include Marina Battenfeld, Austin Browning, Keely Cherry, Madison Gosnell, Lily Howell, Jacob Hunt, Parker Hunt, Roselyn Lasley, Sydney Lyles, Amanda Caroline McCall, Mary Ashley McCrory, Marleigh Meadows, Morgan Meadows, Reagan Mulvey, Lily Paschke, Laney Pollard, Mera Ring, Katia Roach, Cameron Robinson, Leah Rogers, Ben Sears, Wesley Silveira, Brynna Sinyard, Hailey Stewart, Madison Stewart, Madison Sugg, Julia Turpin, Rebekah Vertrees, and Kara White. The group was directed by Lynne Meyer with assistance by Cord Scott and Emily Warren. Adriane Howard, MusicWorks office manager, designed their performance shirt and attended the festival as technical director.

The talented group of young people representing MusicWorks, ages 7-17, performed selections from SEUSSICAL Jr. for adjudication by a panel of distinguished theater professionals, Broadway actors, technicians, and directors. At the Freddie G Awards Ceremony on the final day of the festival, the MusicWorks group was excited to receive several awards including OUTSTANDING EXCELLENCE IN ENSEMBLE, and Ben Sears, a junior at Tuscola High School, was awarded the 2013 OUTSTANDING/HARDEST WORKING MALE PERFORMER out 4,000 students who participated in the festival! “We are all so thrilled for Ben”, says Lynne Meyer, Director of MusicWorks, “He is certainly deserving of this honor because he does work so hard at anything he commits to doing. He is a shining representative for MusicWorks and for Haywood County. I expect great things are ahead for this talented young man!” Several other students from MusicWorks also received awards including Kara White and Parker Hunt who were selected to participate in the JTF ALL-STARS ENSEMBLE; Reagan Mulvey, Austin Browning, Wesley Silveira, and Jacob Hunt were selected to participate in the JTF SLAM in which students are grouped into small ensembles and given a piece of music and 45 minutes to learn the notes, lyrics, staging, and blocking before presenting it to the entire festival on stage. Reagan Mulvey was awarded EXCELLENCT ACHEIVEMENT (female) in the Broadway Jr. SLAM Performance; and Austin Browning was awarded EXCELLENCT ACHEIVEMENT (male) Broadway Jr. SLAM Performance. Morgan Meadows, Julia Turpin, Cameron Robinson, Brynna Sinyard, and Ben Sears were awarded GOLDEN TICKETS in Dance and Choreography and were invited to audition for Broadway Junior Resident Choreographer Steven G. Kennedy for future Broadway Junior Choreography DVD shoots! These talented dancers spent several hours in the dance auditions and call-backs, and all of them were selected as finalists! They will learn later this spring the names of the students selected to go to New York this summer to participate in the DVD shoot.

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. “Attending an event such as JTF provides the students a chance to meet and work alongside other students and professionals who share the same aspirations and love of musical theater. It is certainly a valuable experience for all of us!” stated Meyer. “It is a little overwhelming when you return home and realize that you have spent the weekend learning and conversing with some of the best directors, choreographers, technicians, and musicians on Broadway today, and they’re all so friendly and approachable! They want to help lead and inspire our young people and those are exactly the same goals that I have for my students at MusicWorks.” This is the third year that MusicWorks has attended the festival and Meyer is already planning for the 2014 JTF in which she plans to take two performing groups: One for students in elementary school, and the second for middle/high school performers. “These groups will be open for any MusicWorks student who wants to attend JTF. Auditions are not necessary but a love of musical theater and a strong commitment level from the student and their parents is a must!”

Featuring 82 groups from 28 states, and 4,200 performers, the 2013 Junior Theater Festival offered 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 “Blue Man Group” at the Fox Theatre. Student techies worked side-by-side with festival staff in running all aspects of the festival experience.

In addition to the adjudications and the workshops, festival participants were treated to live performances and question-answer sessions from a host of celebrities including cast members from Broadway’s NEWSIES, Kara Lindsay, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Mike Faist, and Director, Jeff Calhoun. Oscar, Grammy, and Tony-Award winning composer Alan Menken, (The Little Mermaid, Beauty, and the Beast, etc.) was also on-hand to perform at the piano and chat with the audience about his compositions and music background. Mr. Menken was received the 2013 Broadway Junior Award Honoring the Advancement of Musical Theatre for Young People. Finally, PITCH PERFECT (“Jesse”) and SPRING AWAKENING (“Georg”) heart-throb Skylar Astin made his on-stage appearance in the JTF’s Pathways to Success Seminar in which he and he also served as a judge for the Broadway Jr. SLAM performances.