iTheatrics Presents 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravganza

Speakeysie News Desk – December 5, 2020

JANUARY 15-17, 2021 

No Group? No Problem!
For the First Time in History Individuals May Register 

NEW YORK — Aaaaaand… 5, 6, 7, 8! It’s time to put on a show in any way we can, and that is why iTheatrics, the world’s leading authority on musical theatre for young people, has pivoted the 2021 the Junior Theater Festival Atlanta into the 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza!, taking place January 15-17, 2021. Participants worldwide will sing, dance, act, and learn in the virtual version of the flagship of all Junior Theater Festivals. The announcement was made today by Timothy Allen McDonald, founder and CEO of iTheatrics and the Junior Theater Group, which produces the international Junior Theater Festivals.

“We are theatre-makers! And make theatre we will. We’re joining up with an incredible team of artists, creatives, and educators to make this really special,” explains McDonald. “This year hasn’t been easy, and we’ve seen students and teachers shift to online rehearsals, turn storytelling limitations into opportunities, lean on each other for emotional support, and through it all somehow manage to keep a light on at the end of the tunnel. Now, it’s time to celebrate each and every one of them and give those who carry the love of musical theatre in their hearts a way to continue to share their art with others,” he adds.

The 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza! marks the first time in the history of the festival that participants may register with a theater group or as an individual. Registrations are due by December 1st, and more information is here: The Junior Theater Festival is offering a special Black Friday Sale: individual registrations between Friday, November 27 and midnight on Monday, November 30 will receive 20% off by using the code JAZZHANDS. Festival organizers are working with groups who request extensions and other accommodations. Sponsors are Music Theatre International (MTI), Disney Theatrical Productions, Playbill, Inc.®, and iHeartRadio Broadway.

iTheatrics plans in-person festivals for the 2021 Junior Theater Festival West (#JTF) happening May 7, 8, and 9, 2021 in Sacramento, CA, and the first-ever JTF Texas in Sugarland, TX, June 25, 26, and 27, 2021.

Called a “rousing celebration of theatre” by The New York Times, the Junior Theater Festivals recognize and empower the international global movement of young people and educators creating student-driven musical theater worldwide. “A sort of pop-up musical theater megachurch” [Broadway Briefing], the 2020 Junior Theater Festival Atlanta this past January united 7,000 students and educators from 128 educational musical theater groups representing 31 states, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. 

Students will kick off the 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza! with a virtual choir representing every participating group performing the National Anthem, arranged by composer and TikTok viral sensation Daniel J. Mertzlufft and iTheatrics music director Lindsay Lupi, from Disney +’s Encore series.

Each group will pre-record and submit 10 minutes of a Broadway Junior® or Online Edition musical for adjudication. Groups will join up to five other performing groups in a pod to enjoy, support, and learn from each other’s performances. Each group will also receive live feedback on their performance by a talented pool of adjudicators, who will be looking for clear storytelling and students who are engaged in their performance. The adjudicators will highlight different moments of the presentation to workshop live and in real time with each group. Some groups and individual performers will win awards and other recognition. Performances may be submitted in either “Zoom” style or filmed onstage for those groups who are able to gather. The quality of the video or any technical special effects will not be factored into adjudication. 

“Just doing musical theatre with students is an automatic win. The ‘virtual’ drawbacks are forgotten in a snap because the love of and commitment to theatre is so strong,” says Marty Johnson, iTheatrics director of education. “When iTheatrics served as virtual adjudicators for the Junior Theater Festival Australia, we enjoyed a variety of different adjudication performances. Some of the casts were filmed together; some performed from their Zoom boxes. Everyone worked, learned, and had so much fun,” he adds.

The 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza! will included exciting “mainstage events” including the premiere of virtual sneak peek productions of Jason Robert Brown’s13JR. and Disney’s The Descendants, performed remotely by a cast of Junior Theater Festival students from all over the world. There will be a headlining concert, and conversations and performances with professionals from across the theatrical industry highlighting their unique journeys and remarkable accomplishments.

In addition to the centerstage activities, Saturday and Sunday workshops are broken into three tracks for student performers, teachers, and technical theater students. Workshops are taught by Broadway professionals and master teachers from across the country and are uniquely designed for JTF online participants. 

All the young people will enjoy an Online JTF Dance Party-Palooza led by student performers who have starred in choreography videos over the years. Meanwhile, the grown-ups will gather at cocktail-style events where participants visit different rooms to meet each other and talk with talent, special guests, and representatives from iTheatrics, Disney Theatrical Productions, Playbill, and Music Theatre International. Playbill will host a theatre trivia showdown again at this year’s festival, with two student representatives from each group selected to participate and the entire festival invited to watch and play along on social media. 

Finally, the Freddie G Awards Ceremony will celebrate the weekend’s achievements with performances of upcoming shows soon to be released in the Broadway Junior Collection of musicals, and presenting performance awards, technical awards, teacher awards, and so much more. Most importantly, everybody will get to spend a weekend with people who care just as much about theatre as they do. The festival reminds all of us, tall and small, why we do what we do.  

Based in New York City, for the last decade iTheatrics has established itself as the world’s leading authority on musical theater for young people. iTheatrics works with leading public and private companies around the world—including the Kennedy Center, NBC, and all the leading theatrical licensors—to make sure that young people everywhere have access to quality musical theatre programs. When the pandemic hit, iTheatrics responded by creating online adaptations of musicals specifically designed to fit onto a computer screen and be performed remotely by actors. 

Exclusive to organizations performing MTI’s 30 and 60-minute Broadway Junior® musicals and Online Editions, the Junior Theater Festivals bring together the best musical theatre professionals from Broadway and beyond with the largest audience of artists and arts supporters. In addition to its Junior Theater Festivals in the U.S., iTheatrics produces, hosts, and supports one-day Junior Theater Celebrations and Junior Theater Festivals in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. In 2020, nearly 15,000 people worldwide attended a Junior Theater Festival or Junior Theater Celebration.  
Past festival attendees have included Ahrens and Flaherty, Skylar Astin, Shoshana Bean, Nicholas Christopher, Darren Criss, Zac Efron, Cynthia Erivo, Megan Hilty, Arielle Jacobs, Kenny Leon, Caissie Levy, Kara Lindsay, Lindsay Mendez, Alan Menken, Pasek and Paul, Ben Platt, and Jeanine Tesori.

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