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Caryl Crane Youth Theatre students win junior theater awards

• Jan 19, 2017 at 4:00 PM

HURON — Students from Caryl Crane Youth Theatre in Huron won the Freddie G Group Award for Excellence in Music and student Gracie Keener won the Freddie G Award for Excellent Individual Performance by a Female at the 2017 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta, which was held Jan. 13, 14 and 15 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Ga.

Cassandra Battiste, Nathan Hoty and Bryce Dials were three of 142 students who made it to the call-back for future Broadway Junior shoots for “how-to” choreography videos for soon-to-be released Broadway Junior musicals. The shoots will be taped in New York City this summer. The Broadway Junior scouts were on the lookout for outstanding students, out of 5,800 students at the festival, 500 were invited to audition for iTheatrics resident choreographer Steven G. Kennedy. The final cast will be determined later this year. These videos will be used in tens of thousands of schools across the country and internationally.

Thirty-six students, ages 8 to 18, presented selections from Honk JR. for musical director Derek Bowley (Kennedy Center tour and premiere of The Phantom Tollbooth, world premiere of The Trumpet of the Swan at the Kennedy Center); Jennifer Katona, lecturer and director of The City College of New York’s graduate program in educational theatre and recipient of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education’s Lin Wright Special Recognition Award, and director of the Licensing and Hire Department at Hal Leonard Australia, Stuart Hendricks.

Said Katona, “This is a show with a lot of heart told by a cast with a lot of talent. Gracie Keener who played Ida is a powerful performer with a tremendous voice.” Bowley added, “Honk! JR. is all about heart and this group had it. They were fully invested in their animal characters and, at the same time, obviously loved working together to tell this story.”

Students Jack Kaple and DeAreia Lanier were named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars, made up of outstanding performers attending the festival. The All-Stars performed a song during the closing ceremony for all 6,000 festival attendees.

The students who traveled to the 2017 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta on behalf of Caryl Crane Youth Theatre are Lottie Arnold, Cassie Battiste, Melissa Bertolone, Pierre-Jacques Brault, Celia Chamberlain, Claire Daugherty, Bryce Dials, Kate Doyle, Josh Eastlake, Christopher Eirons, Lily Franks, Maisey Frederick, Marisa Graybil, Erica Henning, Nathan Hoty, Ryan Humphrey, Jack Kaple, Daniel Keener, Gracie Keener, Rebekah Klepper, Jake Koba, Alyssa Kranz, DeAreia Lanier, Carrie Hill Leech, Caylin McCormick, Bryce Nevison, Alaina Parkinson, Ben Parnell, Hannah Piwinski, Katie Redmond, Liv Roth, Elijah Routh, Kelsey Swain, Jadyn Towns, Mary Vavroch, Holly Wenzinger and Tia Wightman.

Produced by the Junior Theater Group in partnership with iTheatrics, a leading educational theater company that creates innovative experiences and products for the public and private sector, the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta 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, Inc. The Junior Theater Festival was founded in 2003. In 2010, the festival became an annual event.

Disney Theatrical President Thomas Schumacher; Broadway director, choreographer, producer and dancer Jeff Calhoun (Bonnie & Clyde, Newsies); Broadway choreographer, director and performer Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Newsies); composer Zina Goldrich and lyricist Marcy Heisler (Junie B. Jones, Dear Edwina); Arielle Jacobs (Wicked, Disney’s Aladdin in Sydney), Curt Hansen (Broadway’s Hairspray!, Wicked national tour), Luca Padovan (Broadway’s School of Rock, Broadway’s Newsies), and New York Times best-selling authors Jodi Picoult (Small Great Things) and Mary Pope Osborne (The Magic Treehouse Series) were some of the celebrities at the festival cheering them on.

Caryl Crane Youth Theatre exists to create revolutionary theatre experiences, and advance theatre as a means of educating, challenging and inspiring the youth in its community. The program works to enrich its community, educate, challenge and inspire youth through theatre to foster a lifelong appreciation of the arts.

The program is completely tuition-free and there are no costs to participate in a CCYT production. CCYT also has a Teen Board that operates alongside its Board of Directors and presents several productions throughout the year with a focus on leadership and outreach advancement. The Teen Board is responsible for all the fundraising that allows CCYT to attend the Junior Theater Festival.

Honk! by George Stiles (composer) and Anthony Drewe (books and lyrics) was “plucked” as the 2000 Olivier award’s “Best New Musical”. A contemporary comic adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling”, Honk! JR. follows “Ugly”, whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. Separated from the farm and pursued by a hungry cat, Ugly must find his way home, with only his loving mother “Ida” searching for him. Along his harrowing yet hilarious journey, he not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love and acceptance in all its forms. The musical is so inspirational in its message of acceptance and tolerance that the Ministry of Education in Israel has made it compulsory viewing for school children.

Tickets for the full production of Honk JR. are now on sale and available by calling 419-626-1950 or online through the Sandusky State Theater website at www.sanduskystate.com. Production dates are Feb. 2 at 7 p.m., Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 4 and 5 at 2 p.m. All productions are at the McBride Auditorium on the BGSU Firelands campus, Huron.

The 2017 Junior Theater Festival Atlanta was a monumental weekend of theatrical fellowship. All JTF Atlanta participants enjoyed the world premiere of the live capture performance film of Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical hosted by Broadway director, choreographer, producer and dancer Jeff Calhoun (Bonnie & Clyde, Newsies) and Broadway choreographer, director and performer Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Newsies). Original Broadway actors Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser and Andrew Keenan-Bolger reprised their roles in the film.

Also at JTF Atlanta, Disney Theatrical Productions president and producer Thomas Schumacher delivered the key note address. Songwriting team Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty (Once on this Island, Ragtime) received the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Legacy Award, celebrating musical theater artists who make the world a better place, one musical at a time. Brad Simmons (”Camp”, Lysistrata Jones) launched his new album at the festival. Luca Padovan (School of Rock The Musical) served as the JTF student reporter, offering fans, friends and family an inside look at exciting festival events at the official Junior Theater Festival Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JuniorTheaterFestival/.

The festival also hosted pop-up concerts featuring the works of songwriting team Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Ever After, Junie B. Jones), songwriter and music director Rob Rokicki, (The Lightning Thief); composer/lyricist Matthew Lee Robinson (Atlantis, Happy People) and Brad Simmons (”Camp”, Broadway’s Lysistrata Jones). Arielle Jacobs (Broadway’s In the Heights, Broadway’s Wicked) and Curt Hansen (Broadway’s Hairspray) performed.

There were special author meet and greets with Mary Pope Osborne, author of the international sensation Magic Tree House series of books and musicals; and New York Times best-selling-author Jodi Picoult (Between the Lines), who signed her latest book Small Great Things.

iTheatrics launched its new textbook, The iTheatrics Method, publishes by GIA Publications. The book is designed to make sure that anyone, anywhere can create a successful and self-sustaining musical theater production and/or program.

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