Local students representing First Redeemer Church in Cumming won a Freddie G award for Excellence in Ensemble work and Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts Company, also in Cumming, earned other recognition at the 2022 Junior Theater Festival Atlanta, which happened January 14-16, 2022, in Atlanta, GA.

Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts Company students Elizabeth Hall and Kate Moskowitz made it to the callback for future video shoots for “how-to” choreography videos.

First Redeemer Church students Madeline Balzano and Daniel Williams; Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts Company students Elizabeth Hall and Charli Hartley; were distinguished as All-Stars, an outstanding group of young performers at the festival.

Adjudication and Adjudicator Feedback

At the festival, each group performed 15 minutes of a Broadway Junior® musical for adjudicators.

First Redeemer Church presented Disney’s Aladdin JR. to Jacob Brent, University of the Arts Musical Theatre program director and Broadway Performer (Cats, Broadway); Retired Alliance Artistic Director of Theatre for Youth & Families Rosemary Newcott, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Orchestrator & Music Director Macy Schmidt.

Brent said, “Everyone was giving their full energy. It didn’t matter what role they had, they were not only performing, they were living! This is clearly a wonderful program who is infusing not only skills but a sense of community among the group.” Newcott added, “This group had such a dynamic ensemble, particularly enjoyed Jasmine & her ladies of the court. The connection when creating visual image such as the cave of wonders indicates great commitment.”

Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts presented Seussical JR. to Broadway Actor Katy Geraghty (Groundhog Day Original Broadway Cast); director, choreographer, and educator Kikau Alvaro (University of the Arts), and educator and adjudicator Nicholas Sostillio.

Geraghty said, “What wonderful explosion of energy, color and fun! These young performers took me to the Jungle of Nool and back with their entertaining storytelling. While they absolutely know what they are doing and clearly being trained very well, all I saw onstage was fun. This program seems to hone in on the fact that when you are doing theater alongside your friends, you can do anything.” Alvaro added, “This performance of Seussical JR. did not stop moving once it began. It was super fun! I can tell that they are all having fun while performing. There were moments of celebration in the show and I can tell that those real friendships offstage were incorporated into the story. This is a really special group!” Said Sostillio, “Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts transported us to the world of Dr. Seuss by creating fun, lovable characters. Their staging made everyone an important part of the story.”

About The 2022 JTF Atlanta

Called a “rousing celebration of theatre” by the New York Times, the Junior Theater Festival applauds and empowers young people and educators creating student-driven musical theater around the globe.

The 2022 JTF Atlanta was an incredible and safe weekend of singing, dancing, acting, and learning. The festival worked with experts to modify the event to meet and exceed local, state, and federal safety guidelines. Festival policies included implementing mandatory masking and authenticating vaccinations or negative COVID test results for all attendees.

Tony Award winning actor Ali Stroker performed the headlining concert. Actors Tommy Bracco (Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical) and Kara Lindsay (Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical) took part in a special Newsies panel via video.

Additional talent appearing at the festival and cheering the young artists were actor Krystina Alabado (Mean Girls, Broadway), actor McKenna Michael Bisaha (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical tour), actor Katy Geraghty (Groundhog Day!, Broadway), actor Jake David Smith (Disney’s Frozen on Broadway), actor Daniel J. Mertzlufft (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), actor Luca Padovan (Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical), author and playwright Jodi Picoult (Wish You Were Here, Breathe), screenwriter, songwriter and novelist Dean Pitchford (Footloose, Broadway), music orchestrator Macy Schmidt (founder of The Broadway Sinfonietta), Michael Wordly (The Color Purple, US Tour), and actor Daniel Yearwood (Hamilton).

Groups enjoyed a New Works Showcase of performance selections from upcoming Broadway Junior® musicals presented by JTF groups, and other mainstage performances featuring powerhouse Broadway guests and took part in workshops.

About First Redeemer Church

First Redeemer Conservatory of Music & Fine Art’s Acting Up, established in 2004, is an outreach ministry of First Redeemer Church which provides both private and group instruction in individual musical instruments, voice, art and drama.  The program has enjoyed success at past Junior Theater Festivals. At the 2020 and 2015 JTF Atlanta, the group won a Freddie G Excellence in Acting award. Students Lindsay Williams (2018 JTF Atlanta) and Jacob Harshman (2016 JTF Atlanta) have earned Freddie G awards for Excellent Individual Performance. At the 2015 JTF Atlanta, Thomas McFerran made it to the final call-back for future shoots for “how-to” choreography videos for soon-to-be released musicals. He was also selected to sing the National Anthem for all festival attendees at the opening ceremonies. 2015 marked the first time Acting Up traveled to the Junior Theater Festival.

About Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA)

Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA) works to foster a creative, safe, and professional environment for students to develop skills essential to the performing arts and beyond. FAPA opened in 2013 with 35 students interested in studying the performing arts. The program now has hundreds of students enrolled. Its educators work with students on developing technique, growing confidence, building relationships, and practicing responsibility. FAPA has enjoyed great success at past Junior Theater Festivals. FAPA won a Freddie G Award for Excellence in Ensemble Work (2019 and 2018 JTF Atlanta) and an Excellence in Dance award (2017 and 2016 JTF Atlanta).  Its students have earned recognition as well. Emily Nester (2017 JTF Atlanta) won a Freddie G Group Award for Outstanding Student Director and Choreographer. FAPA students Audrey Durbin (2018, 2017, and JTF Atlanta, 2016 JTF Atlanta), Garrett Van Wambeke (2017 JTF Atlanta), and Alexis Bagley (2016 JTF Atlanta) were named to Tech Theater All-Stars, a select group of students who worked side by side with seasoned professionals, and served on the technical crew for the awards ceremony.  FAPA’s Ella Duncan (2018 JTF Atlanta), Sydney Stetson and Emily Nester (2017 JTF Atlanta) made it to the call-back for future shoots for “how-to” choreography videos. 2015 was the group’s first year traveling to the Junior Theater Festival.

About iTheatrics and the Junior Theater Festivals

iTheatrics and the Junior Theater Group produce the Junior Theater Festivals. 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. In addition to the Junior Theater Festival Atlanta, iTheatrics produces, hosts, and supports Junior Theater Festivals and one-day Junior Theater Celebrations in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.  Past festival attendees have included Ahrens & Flaherty, Skylar Astin, Joshua Basset, Shoshana Bean, Sierra Boggess, Nicholas Christopher, Darren Criss, Zac Efron, Cynthia Erivo, Megan Hilty, Arielle Jacobs, Kenny Leon, Caissie Levy, Kara Lindsay, Ryan McCartan, Lindsay Mendez, Alan Menken, Pasek and Paul, Ben Platt, Olivia Rodrigo, Samsel & Anderson; Steven Schwartz, and Jeanine Tesori.

Courtesy of Ravenscroft PR