ITheatrics Sets Festivals for Atlanta, Sacramento

by Jacob Coakley
 ITheatrics will host their first Junior Theater Festival West in Sacramento
ITheatrics will host their first Junior Theater Festival West in Sacramento

NEW YORK –ITheatrics has confirmed top-level talent for its 2017 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta,  happening January 13-15, 2017. The iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta is the world’s largest festival for student-driven musical theatre programs. Following JTF Atlanta, iTheatrics and the Educational Theatre Association will debut the Junior Theater Festival West February 10-12, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.

More details from iTheatrics:

Musical theater professionals from Broadway and beyond connect directly with one of the largest live audiences of artists and arts’ supporters of tomorrow.  Educators and students – many of whom come from programs which operate in a vacuum during the rest of the year – share ideas and performances.  Programs return home boosted by national recognition, and every participant is transformed by the knowledge that she/he/they belongs to a vast and diverse community of people who care passionately about this art form.

The iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival Atlanta will unite 6,000+ students and educators from 115 educational musical theater groups representing 28 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, New Zealand, South Korea and Australia. Following JTF Atlanta, iTheatrics and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) will debut the Junior Theater Festival West (#JTF17, #JTFWest) February 10-12, 2017, in Sacramento, CA. Title sponsors of both iTheatrics Junior Theater Festivals are Music Theatre International (MTI), Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill, Inc.. 

“Each year, over 36 million people attend a performance of one our educational musical adaptations, cheering on the young people onstage and backstage as the ‘show goes on’ in schools all over the world.  That’s three times the number of people who attend a Broadway show each year,” says Timothy Allen McDonald, founding chairman of iTheatrics and the Junior Theater Group. “Our iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival is a way to bring this massive, musical theater obsessed community together in celebration. Every member of the Broadway community who joins us at JTF tells me they have seen the future of Broadway, and it is a bright future indeed.  It took us twenty years to get to this point, and I am incredibly proud of our achievements. We have introduced millions of young people to the transformative power of musical theater and created millions of new fans for musicals worldwide,” he adds. 

The iTheatrics Junior Theater Festivals are produced by iTheatrics’ nonprofit arm the Junior Theater Group, with content and programming by iTheatrics.  Based in New York City, for the last decade iTheatrics has worked with leading public and private companies around the world – including The White House, the Kennedy Center, NBC and all the leading theatrical licensors – to ensure that young people everywhere have access to quality musical theater programs.

All JTF Atlanta participants will enjoy the world premiere of the live capture performance film of Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical hosted by Jeff Calhoun and Christopher Gattelli. Original Broadway actors Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser and Andrew Keenan-Bolger have reprised their roles in the film. Disney Theatrical Productions president and producer Thomas Schumacher will deliver the key note address.  Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty will receive 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) will launch his new album.  Luca Padovan (School of Rock The Musical) will serve 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 (

In the spirit of celebration and not competition, each student group at the festival will perform a selection from a musical for a panel of theater professionals. Participants will take part in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals, gain from professional development, and enjoy mainstage performances by students and adult actors of the highest caliber. 

The festival will shine the spotlight on composers and artists during Pathways, a Q&A event in which Broadway talent talks candidly about their experiences and presents works from new shows. This year’s Pathways will feature Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Once on this Island, Ragtime).

The festival will also host 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”, Lysistrata Jones).  Arielle Jacobs (In the Heights, Wicked) and Curt Hansen (Hairspray) will perform.

There will be 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 will sign her latest book Small Great Things.  

iTheatrics will also launch its new textbook, The iTheatrics Method, at both JTF Atlanta and JTF West.  The textbook will be published by GIA Publications and is designed to make sure that anyone, anywhere can create a successful and self-sustaining musical theater production and/or program.

At the JTF Atlanta New Works Showcase select groups will perform selections from new musicals that will soon be made available for licensing by MTI. Conwell Kidz Drama Program from Jersey City, NJ, will present Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon KIDS; Play on Players from Duluth, GA, will present Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins JR.; and Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre from Fairhope, AL, will present Junie B. Jones JR. The Center Players @ Arts of the Albemarle from Elizabeth City, NC, will join students from Hunter Drama Students from New South Wales, Australia in performing Disney’s 101 Dalmatians KIDS / and  The Jungle Book KIDS.

 At JTF Atlanta and JTF West, eight (total) exceptional educators from schools and performing arts centers around the country will be selected for the eighth annual “The Freddie G Fellowship,” in which the teachers will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City to collaborate with each other and work one-on-one with Broadway greats. Each winning teacher will also receive a $5,000 grant to put towards his or her theater program.  The event is underwritten and hosted by Freddie and Myrna Gershon and is a thank you for all that teachers do to introduce the next generation to Broadway and musical theater.

There will be a tech track in which students interested in technical theater train with professionals.  A select group of these student technicians will be invited to work side-by-side with festival staff in running the tech for main stage festival events. 

Each group may also nominate up to four students to take part in the Tech Olympics, in which students complete an obstacle course of technical theater activities – ranging from performing a quick change and focusing a light to pre-setting props and taping the floor – within the fastest time.

The festival will award the fourth annual Sharidan Giles Technical Theater Award Scholarship to the technical theater student who most exemplifies commitment, curiosity, collaboration, and creativity in technical theater.  Giles was a respected theater production manager and technical director who mentored countless technical theater artists and was one of the first women admitted into her local branch of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States union (IATSE local # 50).

Playbill will present The Playbill Community Service Award. All groups attending the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival are encouraged to document their organization's community service projects. Up to five finalists will be highlighted on, where the public will vote on its favorite. The winning organization will receive $1,000 to support continued charitable efforts as well as Playbill’s educational resources—including, a complete guide to undergraduate music, dance and theater programs around the country; and, a DIY program maker allowing schools to personalize an authentic Playbill online.

While the Junior Theater Festival is not about creating the stars of tomorrow, many of the stars of today have played a role.  Past festival attendees have included Ben Platt, Darren Criss, Megan Hilty, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Zac Efron, Cory Lingner, Skylar Astin, Andy Jones, Ryann Redmond, Kara Lindsay, Henry Hodges, Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Stephen Schwartz, Alan Menken, Jeanine Tesori, Kenny Leon, and Seth Rudetsky.