Area theater students earn top competition honors


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Students from ACTivate LLC in Lexington won a national Freddie G Outstanding Production award and student Halle Hunter received a Freddie G Outstanding Performance by an Individual Performer award at the 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! January 15-17, 2021.

During 2021 JTF OE adjudication, the ACTivate LLC students presented selections from Into the Woods JR. for actor Krystina Alabado (Mean Girls, Broadway, American Psycho, Broadway); iTheatrics’ vice president of publishing and resident choreographer, Steven G. Kennedy, and senior educational consultant for iTheatrics, Cindy Ripley.

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Each group at JTF OE joined a pod to enjoy, support, and learn from each other’s pre-recorded 10-minute performance of a Broadway Junior® or Online Edition musical.

Performing groups received live feedback on their performance from their adjudicators.

Said Kennedy, “This sweet ensemble of ACTivate’s Into the Woods JR. took me on a wonderful journey into the woods, through their acting and vocal abilities. It was a magical performance!”

Added Ripley, “This beautiful ensemble took us on a creative and wonderful journey through the woods with outstanding choreographic and vocal skills. It was a magical performance!”

Said Alabado, “The world of ‘Into The Woods’ was brought alive by this talented group of creative, imaginative artists!”

Writes Vanessa Becker Weig about the ACTivate students, “These students are so resilient. While their worlds have turned upside down, I have watched them roll with all of the drastic changes. Even seeing their faces light up on the screen or behind a mask helps me to know that they will be okay.”

In the past, Weig has traveled to the festival with students representing Woodford Theatre.

When the pandemic led to furloughs at the Woodford Theatre, Weig decided to start her own company. Weig transformed her garage into an open-air Covid-safe studio, so that students might have a place to prepare for upcoming college, performing arts schools, and Governor’s School for the Arts auditions.

When the JTF Online Extravaganza! was announced, Weig writes, “I knew that I wanted to give a group the opportunity to attend. So we jumped into a Zoom room and outside in the woods to create our Into the Woods Jr. which we will perform in full at an outdoor venue in May.”

The 2021 Junior Theater Festival Online Extravaganza! united students and educators from 43 groups, 34 states and six countries (United States, Canada, South Korea, England, New Zealand, Australia). Students and teachers also attended the festival on the individual track.

The Junior Theater Festivals recognize and empower the international global movement of young people and educators creating student-driven musical theater worldwide. The Junior Theater Festival Atlanta was founded in 2003. In 2010 the festival became an annual event.

The last in-person event, the 2020 Junior Theater Festival Atlanta, united 7,000 students and educators from 128 educational musical theater groups representing 31 states, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

“At our Junior Theater Festival young theatre-makers used their voices, talents, and perseverance to make a lasting and positive cultural impact on our planet. They literally raised their voices in song with thousands of other students from all over the world who care about musical theatre as much as they do,” says iTheatrics and Junior Theater Festival Founder and CEO, Timothy Allen McDonald. “This past year, we’ve seen students and teachers pivot to online rehearsals, turn storytelling limitations into opportunities, lean on each other for emotional support, and through it all keep a light burning at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. I’m proud that we spent three full days encouraging young people to make this world a better place in every way that they can,” he adds.

iTheatrics plans in-person festivals for the 2021 Junior Theater Festival West (#JTF) happening May 7, 8, and 9, 2021 in Sacramento, Calif., and the first-ever JTF Texas in Sugar Land, Texas, June 25, 26, and 27, 2021.

In addition to its Junior Theater Festivals in the U.S., iTheatrics produces, hosts, and supports one-day Junior Theater Celebrations and Junior Theater Festivals in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. In 2020, nearly 15,000 people worldwide attended a Junior Theater Festival or Junior Theater Celebration.