The all-star line-up at the 2020 Junior Theater Festival West will include Disney Theatricals President and Producer Thomas Schumacher; performers Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera), Jason Gotay (Bring It On), and Luca Padovan (School of Rock); writers Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief), Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Dear Edwina, Junie B. Jones), Jodi Picoult (Between the Lines), Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (Olaf's Frozen Adventure), Doug Besterman (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), and Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose); and director Jeff Calhoun (Newsies).
Produced and hosted by iTheatrics, the weekend event brings youth groups from around the world together for a celebration of everything theatre. The 2020 JTF West will take place at Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento February 7–9. The event is expected to draw 2,200 people from 48 theatre groups, representing 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, along with Australia, England, and South Korea.
Goldrich and Heisler will perform the festival's headlining concert, with special guests including Boggess.
JTF celebrates musical theatre and musical theatre education with a weekend of events and performances that bring Broadway and West End professionals together with educators and young students. Youth theatre companies can bring 15-minute staged selections from titles in musical licensor Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior collection for adjudication, after which students attend interactive workshops. Students interested in technical theatre can participate in the tech track, which includes the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals backstage for the festival's mainstage events.
This year's New Works Showcase will feature selections from new musicals that will soon join Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior library, including Roald Dahl's Matilda JR., Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play JR., The Drowsy Chaperone JR., Newsies JR., and Moana JR.
Educators, whether bringing a group of students or attending individually, have access to professional development workshops. Educators traveling with groups have the chance of being selected for the Freddie G Fellowship. Named for MTI Co-Chairman Freddie Gershon, the fellowship is bestowed annually on eight exceptional educators and includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for professional development with Broadway greats and a $5,000 grant for the educator's theatre program.
JTF West in Sacramento began in 2017, the first expansion of iTheatrics' Junior Theater Festival Atlanta, which has since spawned similar celebrations in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.
“It is estimated that 36 million people attend a performance of a Broadway Junior show annually in the U.S. and Canada," shares Festival Founder Timothy Allen McDonald. “That’s three times the number of people who attend a Broadway show each year. JTF West is for the students and teachers who present these shows in their communities; they are an important part of keeping theater alive and thriving. Plus, I grew up in rural Northern California and saw my first professional musicals on the very same stage where the festival is taking place. Thomas Schumacher also hails from Northern California. So for me, JTF West is very personal, it’s an opportunity to show kids from the West coast, and all over the world, that their Broadway dreams can come true like they did for me and Thomas."
Title sponsors of both festivals are Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill.