Speakeysie News Desk December 31, 2020
Online Event Celebrating Musical Theatre for Young People is January 15, 16, 17
Through January 3, People Can Donate to Send Jumpstart Theatre Students & Teachers to the
Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! at www.edtf.org/donate
NEW YORK — Oscar-, Grammy-, Tony-, and Golden Globe award–winning songwriters Pasek & Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) will perform the headlining concert for the 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza!. The announcement was made today by Timothy Allen McDonald, founder and CEO of iTheatrics and the Junior Theater Group, which produces the Junior Theater Festivals. The Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! takes place January 15-17, 2021. Individual registration is open through January 4.
Pasek & Paul have attended the Junior Theater Festival many times in the past. At the Junior Theater Festival Atlanta in 2019, the creative team performed for 6,600 attendees as the headlining concert.
Other guests confirmed for the 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! Include Isaac Powell (West Side Story, Once On This Island), Brion Watson (Hamilton Puerto Rico, national tour); Jennifer Locke (Hamilton national tour); Tim Federle (showrunner and executive producer of High School Musical: the Musical: the Series on Disney+); New York Times Best-selling Author Jodi Picoult (Between the Lines); Jeff Calhoun (Newsies, Between The Lines); Rob Rokicki (The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical); Nina Meehan, founder and executive artistic director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, and TikTok sensations Dan Mertzlufft (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical concert, music supervisor, arranger, and co-composer), Katherine Lynn-Rose (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Blake Rouse (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical concert).
Previously announced talent coming to the festival are Brittney Mack (Six the Musical, Broadway); Krystina Alabado (Mean Girls, Broadway; American Psycho, Broadway); Ryan McCartan (Wicked, Broadway; Frozen, Broadway), Luca Padovan (School of Rock, Broadway), Isabella Russo (School of Rock, Broadway), and Taylor Iman Jones (Head Over Heels). Additional artists will also be announced.
Called a “rousing celebration of theatre” by The New York Times and “a sort of pop-up musical theater megachurch” [Broadway Briefing], the Junior Theater Festivals recognize and empower the international global movement of young people and educators creating student-driven musical theater worldwide. 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.
“JTF has always felt to me like a holiday, we get to spend a weekend with dynamic, creative, and incredible individuals who share in our passion for musical theater. It doesn’t matter if you are a Broadway Star, a TikTok creator, or a second grader, when you come to JTF you have found your people. The 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! gives us all something to look forward to. We are going to celebrate, support, and encourage all of those people who are creating musicals any way that they can. I think we’ll all find our motivation and inspiration to persevere until the time we can do musical theatre that we love in the way that we love it,” says McDonald.
The 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza! marks the first time in the festival’s history that students and adult participants may register as individuals. The deadline for individual registrations is 11:59pm ET on January 4, 2021. (Group registrations are closed.) More information is here: https://juniortheaterfestival.com/. Festival organizers are working with participants who request accommodations. Sponsors are Music Theatre International (MTI), Disney Theatrical Productions, Playbill, Inc.®, and iHeartRadio Broadway.
Now through January 3, 2021, those who love theatre may make a tax-deductible donation to ETF’s Jumpstart Theatre to allow a JumpStart-affiliated-student or teacher, who would not otherwise attend, to join the 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! on the individual track. The Secret Santa donations may be made www.edtf.org/donate. Just designate JumpStart Theatre—gifts are tax-deductible and may be made in honor or in memory of someone. Each $150 sends another student or teacher to the JTF Extravaganza! ETF, in collaboration with iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI), created JumpStart Theatre, a scalable pilot program which builds sustainable musical theatre programs in middle schools where there previously were none. The pilot launched in Cincinnati in 2015, and as of 2019, JumpStart Theatre is being implemented in Cincinnati, OH; San Diego, CA; St. Louis, MO; Atlanta, GA; and Frostburg, MD.
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 Sugar Land, TX, June 25, 26, and 27, 2021.
During the 2021 JTF Online Extravaganza! each group will pre-record and submit 10 minutes of a Broadway Junior® or Online Edition musical for adjudication. Groups and individuals will join an adjudication pod to enjoy, support, and learn from each other’s performances, and performing groups will receive live feedback on their performance by a talented pool of adjudicators. The festival’s “mainstage events” will include the premiere of virtual sneak peek productions of Jason Robert Brown’s 13 JR. and Disney’s The Descendants, performed remotely by a cast of students from all over the world. Taylor Iman Jones (Head Over Heels) and iTheatrics education associate Jiana Odland will have a conversation about equity and inclusion in the arts. In addition to Pasek & Paul’s headlining concert, there will be conversations and performances with professionals from across the theatrical industry highlighting their unique journeys and remarkable accomplishments.
In addition to the mainstage 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, and grown-ups will gather at cocktail-style events with talent, special guests, and representatives from iTheatrics, Disney Theatrical Productions, Playbill, and Music Theatre International. Playbill will host a theatre trivia showdown, with eight student representatives participating, and the entire festival is 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 for Broadway Junior®, and presenting performance awards, technical awards, teacher awards, and so much more.
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.