The upcoming Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, has announced the roster of Broadway stars that will make special appearances. The list includes Mean Girls Broadway vets Krystina Alabado, Erika Henningsen, Grey Henson, Kate Rockwell, and Kyle Selig; Into the Woods' Katy Geraghty; Six and The Devil Wears Prada star Taylor Iman Jones; Hamilton's Daniel Yearwood; Dear Evan Hansen writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; and Disney Theatrical Productions President and Producer Thomas Schumacher.
Produced and hosted by iTheatrics, the weekend event brings youth groups from around the world together for a celebration of everything theatre. The 2023 Atlanta festival, running January 13–15, will see 125 youth theatre groups from 28 states (along with Washington D.C., Canada, and Australia) in attendance for three days of singing, dancing, acting, and learning.
Also slated to appear at this year's festival are director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun (Newsies), Cori Jaskier (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), writer Kate Leonard (Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), composer and music director Daniel J. Mertzlufft (Breathe, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), Michael Wordly (Kinky Boots), Luca Padovan (Newsies), best-selling author Jodi Picoult (Between the Lines), and Wren Rivera (Jagged Little Pill).
"These students and teachers are not just the future of musical theatre, they are musical theatre," says iTheatrics Founder and CEO Timothy Allen McDonald. "Their positive impact is huge. They chart cast albums, they sell out shows. They introduce so many to musical theatre through their own productions and they continually evolve this art form through their storytelling. After 20 years of this festival, we’ve seen what prioritizing the arts can do for individuals, communities, and musical theatre itself, and we understand the importance of giving theatre kids the opportunity to be in the company of thousands of other people who care just as much about this art form as they do."
JTF celebrates musical theatre and musical theatre education with a weekend of events and performances that bring Broadway and West End professionals together with educators and young students. Youth theatre companies can bring 15-minute staged selections from titles in musical licensor Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior collection for adjudication, after which students attend interactive workshops. Students interested in technical theatre can participate in the tech track, which includes the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals backstage for the festival's mainstage events.
Educators, whether bringing a group of students or attending individually, have access to professional development workshops. Educators traveling with groups have the chance of being selected for the Freddie G Fellowship. Named for MTI Co-Chairman Freddie Gershon, the fellowship is bestowed annually on eight exceptional educators and includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for professional development with Broadway greats and a $5,000 grant for the educator's theatre program.
Title sponsors include Disney Theatrical Productions, Playbill, iHeartRadio Broadway, and founding sponsor Music Theatre International.