Students from Atomic City Children’s Theater in Los Alamos earned high praise at the 2015 Junior Theater Festival happening Jan. 16, 17 and 18 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Ga.
The 14 students, ages 10-14 presented selections from Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. for Broadway performer Phillip McAdoo (The Lion King, Rent); Disney Theatrical Group dramaturg and literary manager Ken Cerniglia and performer Morgan Rose (first national tour of Shrek the Musical, Dear Edwina).
“This was a great group of performers,” McAdoo said. “They gave a fun and fantastic performance.”
“The Atomic City Children’s Theater ensemble showed great teamwork and energy,” Cerniglia added. “They did a wonderful job sharing notes and supporting one another to create theater magic!”
The group will present a new musical, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka JR., at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Smith Auditorium. Admission to all shows is free.
Joseph Sarrao and Evelyn Wohlbier were named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars, made up of two outstanding performers from each group attending the festival. The All-Stars performed a song during the closing ceremony for all 4,500 festival attendees.
Produced by the Junior Theater Group in partnership iTheatrics, a leading educational theater company which creates innovative experiences and products for the public and private sector, the Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest festival celebrating young people and the transformative power of musical theater. This year’s title sponsors were Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill®. The Junior Theater Festival was founded in 2003. In 2010 the Festival became an annual event.
Stage and screen stars Megan Hilty (Wicked, Smash), Darren Criss (Glee), Lilla Crawford (Annie, Into the Woods the movie), Luca Padovan (Newsies) and Philip McAdoo (Disney’s The Lion King, Rent), as well as Disney Theatrical Group president and producer Thomas Schumacher, Oscar-winning Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez (songwriters for Frozen, co-creators of In Transit), and Tony-nominated composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach) were on hand to applaud the 4,500 students and teachers representing 101 educational musical theater groups representing 26 states, the District of Columbia and two countries.
The Junior Theater Festival offered an enthusiastic environment for students and teachers to interact with thousands of others who share their passion for musical theater. In addition to presenting a 15-minute selection from a musical, both students and teachers participated in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals, gained from professional development and enjoyed theatrical fellowship.
The students who traveled to the 2015 Junior Theater Festival on behalf of Atomic City Children’s Theater are Savannah Brown, Jamie Cull-Host, Evelyn Doebling, Christopher Koh, Reyna Lucero, Kaylee Rogers, Mackenzie Rogers, Maya Rogers, Joseph Sarrao, Olivia Taylor, Mattie Warrior and Evelyn Wohlbier
Atomic City Children’s Theater is an after-school theater program offered by the Los Alamos Public School system to encourage academic excellence in students through direct involvement in live theater. The directing staff is made up primarily of district faculty.
For the group’s Junior Theater Festival trip, Atomic City Children’s Theater employed a “multiple casting” strategy to allow students to maximize their growth and experience—performers switch parts for each scene.
This was Atomic City Children’s Theater’s third time attending the Junior Theater Festival. At the 2013 festival the group won a Freddie G Excellence in Ensemble award. Additionally, student Lauren Partin was one of 80 attendees selected for a final call-back for future Broadway Junior shoots for “how-to” choreography videos for soon-to-be released Broadway Junior musicals.