by Jody Key — Managing Editor
This MLK weekend, over 6500 people converged upon the ATL at the Cobb Galleria to witness an annual event of epic proportions. The iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival is a place for children and their directors who love musical theater to come together and showcase their talents, make new friends from around the world, and learn from Broadway professionals to help improve their craft. Sponsored by Playbill, Disney, and Music Theater International, this festival highlights what is magical about theater, and readies the next generation of artists for careers in the musical theater business.
CYT Altanta — Godspell, JR
One of the highlights of the festival is the adjudication process, where over 130 theater troops perform a 15 minute cut of an iTheatrics Broadway Junior or Kids show. The troops then receive feedback on their performances from two adjudicators, professionals in the musical theater industry, who help them perfect their craft. From these adjudications, 9 troops are then selected to perform a portion of their cut on the JTF mainstage. In addition, select troops are recognized for their performances in several categories which include, music, acting, and dancing.
Collection Theatre Company — Disney’s Peter Pan JR
How are over 130 troops efficiently adjudicated? The festival is expertly organized, and the adjudications take place from 8:45 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday of the festival. Groups are split into 18 separate “pods” with 7 to 8 performances in each pod. We enjoyed the performances we saw and were impressed with each one. It was interesting to see how directors were able to take a show that tells a story in a little over an hour and condense it down to 15 minutes. While there were multiple performances of the same show, no two performances were alike.
The nine Outstanding Productions showcased during the awards ceremony were as follows: Marietta Sixth Grade Academy, Marietta, GA–Disney’s Alladin Jr.; Bravo! Oak Park IL–Legally Blonde Jr. ; Melody Lane Performing Arts Center, Cape Coral FL–Disney’s The Lion King Jr.; Ohlook Performing Arts Center, Grapevine TX–Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr.; Inspiration Stage, Sugarland TX–Once on this Island Jr.; Spark Theater Company, Dothan AL–Once on this Island, Jr.; Play on Players, Gainesville GA–Godspell, Jr.; Eastern Shore Repertory Theater, Fairhope AL–Disney’s and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins Jr.; and Showtime Theatre, Rock Hill SC–Seussical Jr.
Play on Players — Godspell JR
Mill Springs Academy — Elf JR