PHOTO CALL: Highlights from the 2011 Junior Theatre Festival; Jeanine Tesori Honored

Junior Theater Festival   PHOTO CALL: Highlights from the 2011 Junior Theatre Festival; Jeanine Tesori Honored
 
The 2011 Junior Theatre Festival was held in Atlanta, GA, Jan. 14-16. The event, which attracted over 2,000 students from across the U.S., honored Tony Award nominee and Olivier Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori.

Over 50 schools were represented in the festival, which is sponsored by Music Theatre International and Disney Theatrical Productions and is produced by Atlanta's Theater of the Stars and New York City-based iTheatrics, which helps develop stage works for young people.

Various student groups were also honored with the "Freddie G Awards," which recognize achievements in teamwork and production excellence. The awards were named for MTI CEO Freddie Gershon.

Here is a look at some of the talented young performers and special guests:

Tony Award winner and Disney Theatrical Group president Tom Schumacher delivered the keynote speech and Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Bryan-Michael Cox participated in a Q&A with teachers and students.

  Also on hand were A Chorus Line cast member and revival director Baayork Lee; Tony Award-nominated Fences director Kenny Leon; Tony Award-winning lighting designer Ken Billington (The Scottsboro Boys); choreographer Maddie Kelly (Taboo); sound designer Matt Kraus (Liza at the Palace); actor Stephen Eng (Pacific Overtures); O'Neill Theatre Center Juniors Program head Brad Simmons; SpotCo marketing director Nick Pramik; and wardrobe specialist Jay Woods.

"There have been over 50,000 separate grade school productions in the U.S.A. and the thousands of students at the Junior Theater Festivals show the world why experiential learning through musical theatre is so important," Gershon said in a statement. "The experience of being part of a show allows our young people to become valuable members of society by learning life skills like working together, problem solving, public performance and utilizing their imagination and creativity as a team. It also lets them build a life-long appreciation for one of America's unique art forms, musical theatre."

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