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VIDEO: Local students win national theatre award

Moving Art's production of 'Seussical Jr.' earns accolades

Students from Moving Art in Barrie won a national Freddie G Excellence in Music award at the 2021 Junior Theatre Festival Online Extravaganza! (JTF OE), which happened Jan. 15-17, 2021. JTF OE is a monumental weekend of theatrical fellowship rewarding and empowering student-driven musical theatre programs.

Produced by the Junior theatre Group in partnership with iTheatrics, a leading educational theatre company that creates innovative experiences and products for the public and private sector, JTF OE took place as a pivot from iTheatrics’ flagship in-person festival event, the Junior Theatre Festival Atlanta, which traditionally occurs over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in Atlanta, Ga.

During 2021 JTF OE adjudication, the Moving Art students presented selections from Seussical JR. for actor Brittney Mack (Six The Musical, Broadway); director, choreographer, producer, and dancer Jeff Calhoun (Newsies on Broadway); and musical theatre author and iTheatrics and Junior Theatre Festival founder and CEO, Timothy Allen McDonald.

Each group at JTF OE joined a pod to enjoy, support, and learn from each other’s pre-recorded 10-minute performance of a Broadway Junior or Online Edition musical. Performing groups received live feedback on their performance from their adjudicators.

Said McDonald, "Moving Art’s Seussical JR. was impeccable! The ensemble shined throughout with their sensitivity to the material. Well done!"

Added Calhoun, "Moving Art has given a very clean and charming presentation of Seussical JR. at this year's virtual festival. A few stand outs in this well choreographer show were Anastasia Stevens as The Cat, Claire Johnson as Horton, Maya McNair as Jojo, and Chase Mlinaric who stood out because his sense of rhythm, movement and dance was undeniable."

Moving Arts’ Carla Tucker says, “Our students have made us proud throughout the year, and throughout the pandemic. They have adapted to all sorts of challenges. From wearing masks, to face shields, to social distancing and having to pre-record music, all alongside the snowy weather that limits travel, the students and their parents, have always shown up with a smile, gratitude and tons of energy. We are so proud of the leadership skills that we’ve seen in our older students. The encouragement that we have seen between all the students throughout the process and the changing Provincial protocols has been exceptional!"  

"During this time, we have had to adapt our ‘live theatre’ experiences. We were able to provide our students with the opportunity to do a LiveStream performance. During rehearsals we were able to take some of our singing outside, until the cold weather started in October.

"Once we were inside all of the challenges with distance, face shields, masks, etc, come in to place. However, the students made it happen! They were exceptionally willing and up for any challenge. It’s amazing how they tackle things,” she added.

The 2021 Junior Theatre Festival Online Extravaganza! united students and educators from 43 groups, 34 states and six countries (United States, Canada, South Korea, England, New Zealand, Australia). Students and teachers also attended the festival on the individual track.

The Junior Theatre Festivals recognize and empower the international global movement of young people and educators creating student-driven musical theatre worldwide. The Junior Theatre Festival Atlanta was founded in 2003. In 2010 the festival became an annual event.

The last in-person event, the 2020 Junior Theatre Festival Atlanta, united 7,000 students and educators from 128 educational musical theatre groups representing 31 states, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

“At our Junior Theatre Festival young theatre-makers used their voices, talents, and perseverance to make a lasting and positive cultural impact on our planet. They literally raised their voices in song with thousands of other students from all over the world who care about musical theatre as much as they do,” says iTheatrics and Junior Theatre Festival founder and CEO, Timothy Allen McDonald.

“This past year, we’ve seen students and teachers pivot to online rehearsals, turn storytelling limitations into opportunities, lean on each other for emotional support, and through it all keep a light burning at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. I’m proud that we spent three full days encouraging young people to make this world a better place in every way that they can,” he adds.

iTheatrics plans in-person festivals for the 2021 Junior Theatre Festival West (#JTF) happening May 7, 8, and 9, 2021 in Sacramento, Calif., and the first-ever JTF Texas in Sugar Land, Texas June 25, 26, and 27, 2021. In addition to its Junior Theatre Festivals in the U.S., iTheatrics produces, hosts, and supports one-day Junior Theatre Celebrations and Junior Theatre Festivals in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. In 2020, nearly 15,000 people worldwide attended a Junior Theatre Festival or Junior Theatre Celebration.