Music Theatre International Australasia—in partnership with AMICI Trust in New Zealand and producers Shane Bransdon and Daniel Stoddart, and in collaboration with iTheatrics—will present the third annual Junior Theatre Celebration Australia in Newcastle, Australia, October 26–27 and the second Junior Theatre Celebration New Zealand in Auckland, New Zealand, November 2–3.
Junior Theatre Celebrations, which allow students and teachers to come together to share their talents, are based on the Junior Theater Festivals produced by iTheatrics, which take place on both U.S. coasts each year. Additional one-day Junior Theatre Celebrations take place annually across the U.S., and Music Theatre International Europe will host the Junior Theatre Festival Europe in May 2019.
Participating in this year’s Junior Theatre Celebrations are Timothy Allen McDonald, award-winning playwright and founder of iTheatrics in New York City; Marty Johnson, iTheatrics’ Director of Education; John Prignano, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education and Development of Music Theatre International; Stuart Hendricks, Managing Director of MTI Australasia; Lucy Durack, Glinda in Wicked Australia and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde Australia; musical director John Foreman (Australian Idol and Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton); Erin James, resident choreographer for the 60th anniversary production of My Fair Lady directed by Dame Julie Andrews; and David Rogers-Smith, Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera.
The Junior Theatre Celebration programs will center on performers, ranging in age from 7 to 18, presenting an extract from an MTI Broadway Junior musical. The young people will receive feedback on their performances and constructive criticism to encourage further learning in key areas. Some performers will be selected for honors. Performers and educators will also enjoy a Q&A with special guests, interactive workshops presented by leading theatre and teaching artists, and an evening concert.
Both Junior Theatre Celebrations will feature culminating performances from week-long pilot workshops of two brand-new musicals from the MTI catalog: Sister Act JR. (Australia) and Disney’s Newsies JR. (New Zealand). In Newcastle from October 22–26, 50 students will participate in a pilot workshop of Sister Act JR. directed by Marty Johnson and Timothy Allen McDonald. In Auckland from October 29–November 2, a cast of over 40 young New Zealanders will take part in a week-long workshop of Disney’s Newsies JR. The program will again be directed by Johnson and McDonald.
At Junior Theatre Celebration Australia, musical theatre companies will offer special guest performances on the mainstage, including presentations from Disney’s Aladdin JR. (Hunter Drama, NSW), Children of Eden JR. (Adelaide Youth Theatre), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang JR. (Roar Academy, Queensland). The evening presentation will also include a special performance by Foreman and Durack.
One teacher will be awarded the Broadway Junior Ambassadorship, an all-expense-paid trip to Broadway and the flagship Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
Joining international guests to work with the young performers at the Junior Theatre Celebration New Zealand will be Jackie Clarke (New Zealand Idol); Hamish Mouat (company manager/choreographer of the National Youth Theatre Company, resident choreographer and a guest director and artist for the Metropolitan Education Network in Southern California); Destiny Anderson (Mamma Mia! New Zealand tour choreographer); Teesh Szabo, (Little Shop of Horrors, Wallace Development Company); Zac Johns (Dogfight, NZ premiere); and Shane Bransdon (OzTheatrics).
“The Junior Theatre Celebration Australia and New Zealand offer talented and creative young people a way to write their own role in the global community of storytellers. Not only do they learn how to take their own artistry to a new level, they gain the tools to strengthen their programs once they return home, while spending time in the fellowship of peers and leaders who value this artform as much as they do,” said Drew Cohen, President and CEO of MTI, in a statement.