Local Students Win National Awards At 2022 Junior Theater Festival In Atlanta

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Christian Family Theater All-Stars Mia Lucas and Robby Lawrence
Christian Family Theater All-Stars Mia Lucas and Robby Lawrence
- photo by Christian Family Theater

Local students representing Christian Family Theater in Chattanooga and North Whitfield Middle School in Dalton won a national award and earned other recognition at the 2022 Junior Theater Festival Atlanta. The weekend dedicated to rewarding and celebrating student-driven musical theater programs happened online and in-person Jan. 14-16 in Atlanta. 

Christian Family Theater student Skylan Sapere won a Freddie G award for Outstanding Student Direction and Choreography.

Christian Family Theater students Nadia Giles and Hailey May and North Whitfield Middle School student Blakely Nix made it to the callback for future video shoots for “how-to” choreography videos.

Christian Family Theater students Robby Lawrence and Mia Lucas and North Whitfield Middle School students Blakeley Nix and Preston Nix were distinguished as All-Stars, an outstanding group of young performers at the festival. 

At the festival, each group performed 15 minutes of a Broadway Junior musical for adjudicators.

Christian Family Theater presented Chitty Chitty Bang Bang JR. for music director and iTheatrics Master Teacher Derek Bowley and Michael J. Bobbitt, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 

Mr. Bowley said, "The performers committed to everything they did onstage. Whether they were singing solos, harmonizing with their cast-mates, executing the choreography, or creating a car with their bodies, the level of focus and effort remained high throughout the presentation. Christian Family Theater is teaching traditional musical theater technique in singing and dancing, while instilling an understanding that the success of a production depends on the full effort of everyone involved, onstage and off."

North Whitfield Middle School presented Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical JR. to director Lotte Wakeham (Associate Director: Matilda the Musical - West End and Broadway); actor Daniel Yearwood (Hamilton, Once On This Island 2017 Revival); and Cindy Ripley, senior education consultant at iTheatrics.

Said Ms. Wakeham, “I thoroughly enjoyed watching this performance of Matilda, including the detailed staging of ‘Miracle’ and the impressive physicality and teamwork used to create the hidden alphabet in the School Song. The students displayed great energy and passion throughout - Bravo! The staff and students should be incredibly proud of their hard work. This program is an asset to the school. Matilda can be a demanding show to stage, and they took on this ambitious project with great flair, skill and talent.”

Mr. Yearwood said, “Every element of this production sparked the room with a light and joy that left the entire audience giddy. The top of the show–as the bullied children were dragged through a wall of bodies–each member of the ensemble held their own with strong point of views about one another and the environment they coexisted in. They reminded all of us of the kindred happiness and fears we’d all experienced as children-the feelings that have become more complex over time. Still, we saw ourselves in this cast. Addison Connor’s Matilda along with all the other classroom kids expressed so vividly the vast array of emotions that accompany dealing with those who abuse their power. Lindy Hester’s Trunchbull and Preston Nix’s Nigel brought vigor and tenacity to a strife ridden relationship between a tyrannical teacher and her frightened students. Taking the world to another level- ‘The Alphabet Song’ displayed choreography and stunts that left us darting our eyes around the stage as they used their bodies to spell out letters both from the floor and in formations that formed larger three-dimensional letters. North Whitefield Middle School’s execution had us all grinning from ear to ear throughout the number and it served as a wonderful prelude to the fun we all deserve to have so wonderfully depicted In ‘When I Grow Up’. Their portrait of a playground took us back to our own childhood parks and memories we all had of growing up."

Ms. Ripley said, “This cast took the stage with confidence. These students know how to use every ingredient of their theatre craft to tell a story! I can tell their theatre educators are consistent, caring humans who offer incredible instruction!”

North Whitfield Middle School All-Stars Preston Nix and Nix
North Whitfield Middle School All-Stars Preston Nix and Nix

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