Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, fresh off their Golden Globe win and Oscar nominations for the hit film musical La La Land, will headline the first-ever Junior Theater Festival West (JTF West), February 10–12 in Sacramento, California.
The Junior Theater Festival, which takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, each January, is the world’s largest festival celebrating young people and the transformative power of musical theatre.
ITheatrics, the Junior Theater Group, and the Educational Theatre Association have aligned to create the West Coast version that will center on middle school-aged performers.
Pasek and Paul have a long relationship with iTheatrics. The company’s founder, Timothy Allen McDonald, collaborated with the duo on their musical James and the Giant Peach. The in-demand writers are also represented on Broadway this season with the acclaimed new musical Dear Evan Hansen.
Wicked star Shoshana Bean will join Pasek and Paul at JTF West to perform their music during Pathways to Success, a Q&A event in which composers and artists talk candidly about their experiences and present works from new shows. Bean will also teach a master class during the festival.
NBC entertainment executive Dean McFlicker, a dancer and choreographer who was in the original film of Newsies, will join the festival as an adjudicator and master class teacher.
JTF West will also feature a preview of the film adaptation of Stephen Karam’s play Speech and Debate, which focuses on high schoolers who are passionate about theatre. The festival will also host pop-up concerts featuring the works of songwriter and music director Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief); composer/lyricist Matthew Lee Robinson (Atlantis, Happy People); and composer, music director, and orchestrator Deborah Wicks La Puma (Making Paradise: The West Hollywood Musical).
JTF West’s title sponsors are Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill, Inc.
Student groups from across the U.S., in addition to participants from Australia, Korea, and New Zealand, come together to perform selections from Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior library of shows at the festivals.