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Posted: Saturday, February 9th 2013 at 8:40am

Students from Gainesville, Flowery Branch win national theater recognition

By Staff
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Play on Players (Photo courtesy the Junior Theater Festival/James Barker.)
ATLANTA - Several students from Gainesville won national praise at the 2013 Junior Theater Festival which was held recently in Atlanta.

Students from Gainesville's Play On Players won a Freddie G Outstanding Production Award, a Freddie G Outstanding Achievement in Acting Award and student Taylor Priday won an Outstanding Female Performance Award and students from C.W. Davis Middle School in Flowery Branch won national praise.

The Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest musical theater festival. Produced by New York’s iTheatrics and Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars, the Junior Theater Festival celebrates young people and the transformative power of musical theater. This year’s festival brought together 4,000 students and teachers representing 82 groups from 23 states.

As one of just eight schools from across the country to win a Freddie G Outstanding Production Award, the Play On Players students performed a song from their Honk! JR. production during the festival's closing ceremonies.

The Play On Players students presented selections from Honk! JR. for Nick Pramik, Director of Marketing and Partnerships division at Broadway entertainment advertising agency SpotCo and Karma Camp, Choreographer at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The 24 students representing C.W. Davis Middle School presented selections from The Pirates of Penzance JR. for director, choreographer and performer Jacob Brent (appeared in Broadway, London and DVD productions of Cats and Starlight Express, directed premiere of Avenue Q School Edition); and Kennedy Center director Deirdre Kelly Lavrakas (Walking in the Winds: American Tales and Walking in the Winds: Arabian Tales – a co-production with the Performing Arts Center of Amman, Jordan), who directed two musical theater reviews for a state department tour of South Asia and led drama workshops for teachers and students in Bahrain last March.

Play On Players student Max River was one of 10 students named to Tech Theater All-Stars. Each group attending the festival was allowed to nominate two students who took part in technical theater workshops designed to help develop their talents. From these students, a select group worked side-by-side with seasoned professionals and served on the technical crew for the awards ceremony.

Play On Players students Kayla Lowry and Hanna Slaughter were two of 80 students who made it to the final 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, 389 were invited to audition and 80 made it to the final callback with iTheatrics resident choreographer Steven G. Kennedy. These videos will be used in tens of thousands of schools across the country and internationally.

Play On Players students Heidi Rider and Riley Smith and C.W. Davis students Jordon Cancel and Laurine Haneres were named to the Broadway JR. All-Stars, made up of two outstanding students from each group at the festival. The All-Star students performed the song “Oh, Bless the Lord” from Godspell JR. at the closing ceremonies.

About Play On Players

Cast members range in age from 8-18. The Gainesville Theatre Alliance supported the students in their production of Honk! JR. by allowing them to use their space and provided costumes and set materials for the production as well. Many parents also lent a hand to the production.

Since each cast member portrayed an animal character in the production, during rehearsal each student showed his or her interpretation of their animal's walk, movements, and noises. The cast did projection and energy exercises in which cast members would sit in the back of the audience and yell "louder" or "more energy" if they could not hear their cast mates on stage or if they looked like they weren't attacking their movements.

Following is the Play On Players cast list for the festival:

Ian Adams
Kenadi Adams
Brittany Barron
Bryson Brozovsky
Cecilia Castro
Joseph Chastain
Kendall Conley
Kaitlin Dunn
Madi Fielder
Kaitlin Gentry
Drew Hill
Lauren Hill
Jayna Jennings
Kayla Lowry
Seth Martin
Bailey Morris
Maddie Noe
Taylor Priday
Halli Rider
Heidi Rider
Max Roberts
Sofia Savas
Hannah Skelton
Hanna Slaughter
Riley Smith
Catie Urquhart
Julia Veiga
Ali Winiesdorffer

Following is the C.W. Davis Middle School cast list for the festival:

Jade Adhola
Jordon Cancel
Kensey Faldoski
Adrienne Fitzgerald
Laurine Haneres
Alex Johnston
Alyssa Joy
Dacee King
Hannah Lee
Bella Lunt
Brina Lykins
Brooke Lykins
Allie-Grace Mock
Hannah Nelms
Addison Nevius
Joseph Potters
Chase Rowand
Kathryn Smith
John Talley
Chloe Thayer
Stephen Thomas
Edna Wallis
Jonathan Wallis
Tye Young

Associated Categories: Local/State News

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