TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre Students Soar at 2013 Junior Theater Festival

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TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre Students  Soar at 2013 Junior Theater Festival

Students from Theatre Under The Stars' (TUTS) Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) recently received several accolades including Outstanding Achievement in Music, Outstanding Student Director, Outstanding Student Choreographer and Outstanding Performance in the nation-wide Junior Theater Festival, January 18 - 20, 2013.

More than 4,000 children from 23 states participated in the celebration of musical theatre presented by iTheatrics and Theater Of The Stars in Atlanta, Georgia. "I witnessed artistic brilliance from the students of HSMT and a roaring standing ovation of 4,000 of their peers when their performance was done. I am proud that TUTS has the Humphreys School and all it has accomplished." said Bob Lawson, TUTS' Director of Education.

One of the benefits of attending the Junior Theater Festival is to receive critiques from voice, dance and acting adjudicators who are professionals in the business. The students of HSMT performed a fifteen minute piece from the musical Godspell to much success. The following honors were awarded to HSMT:

A trophy for Outstanding Achievement in Music for Godspell
A gold medal for Outstanding Student Director to Trey Curtis
A gold medal for Outstanding Student Choreographer to Matthew Smith
Katja Yanko and Dillion Glass were selected to perform in the All-Star show
Gerra Gistand was selected as the guest soloist in the Festival's finale
Libby Jasper was selected for "Broadway Jr. Slam"
Alexa Magro, Katelyn Kapocsi, Lauren Santana, Savannah May, Dylan Lambert, Ashton Lambert, Scott and Daniel Fonseka, Miho and Mizuki Maeda and Garret Morris were asked to audition for the summer choreography program
Presented Disney's Aladdin Dual Language Edition in the New Works Showcase
Under the direction of Trey Curtis and choreography of Matthew Smith, the following ensemble of students worked together in making Godspell an award-winning success at the festival: Dillon Glass (Jesus), Julian Malone (John the Baptist), Scott Fonseka (Rich Man), Ashton Lambert (Narrator), Libby Jasper (Vocalist), Dylan Lambert (Vocalist) and Gerra Gistand (Vocalist). One of the adjudicators for this performance was Brian Batt from HBO's acclaimed series "Mad Men."

An additional honor for HSMT was being one of five schools asked to perform an original musical number in the festival's New Works Showcase. With creative choreography recreating a magic carpet ride, the students took the audience to "A Whole New World" in Disney's Aladdin Dual Language Edition. Appearing as Aladdin was Daniel Fonseka alongside Mallory Bechtel as Jazmin. The one and only Genie who resides in the magical lamp was played by Michelle Smith while Ashton Lambert assumed the role of the royal tiger, Rajah. The musical number also included Alexa Magro as the Magic Carpet and Mizuki Maeda as Aladdin's monkey side kick, Abu.

Many unique opportunities were also given to those who attended the festival. Interactive workshops with highly skilled theater professionals were available to both students and teachers. Key note speakers including actors Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect, Spring Awakening); Briga Heelan ("Cougar Town"); Jacob Brent (Cats); Tony-nominated scenic designer Tobin Ost (Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde); and Tony-winning lighting designer Ken Billington (Chicago) were on hand to encourage the students to follow their theatrical dreams. The HSMT students were also asked to appear in the "Be Our Guest" musical number welcoming the festival's guest of honor, Tony award-winning composer, Alan Menken onto the stage where he was recognized for his contribution toward the advancement of musical theatre for young people.

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is Houston's acclaimed nonprofit musical theatre company whose mission is to enrich life through the experience of quality musical theatre and to positively impact lives beyond the stage through innovative education & community engagement programs. Currently TUTS engages more than 200,000 people annually through productions at Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center and at Miller Outdoor Theatre. TUTS was the first theatrical organization in Houston to perform free to the public when it was founded in 1968 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park and is the only Houston arts organization that has performed there free to the public every year since the theatre opened. Founded by Frank M. Young and currently under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge and Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world premieres such as Kopit and Yeston's Phantom, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Jekyll & Hyde, and Irving Berlin's White Christmas as well as critically acclaimed re-inventions of classics Cabaret and Les Miserables. Through its membership in the Independent Presenters Network, TUTS has helped bring Bombay Dreams, 9 to 5, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Spamalot, Legally Blonde, Ragtime, Curtains and The Color Purple to Broadway and ultimately back to Houston audiences.

In support of TUTS' mission, TUTS' Education & Community Engagement programs provide instruction and stage experience for more than 48,000 Houstonians annually. The Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) offers technique-driven classes for all ability levels and ages, ranging from four to adult. Through The River Performing and Visual Arts Center (The River), TUTS provides an accessible and inclusive arts education for individuals of all abilities that will enhance their development into confident, balanced individuals. TUTS Education & Community Engagement provides extended on-site programming as well as off-site programming for children in schools, hospitals and other community-based sites. TUTS' community partnerships include collaborations with the Houston Independent School District and Region IV school districts, the YMCA of Greater Houston, M.D. Anderson Children's Cancer Center, Texas Children's Hospital and Shriner's Hospital - Houston, among several other Houston-area organizations. TUTS also annually presents the Tommy Tune Awards, honoring the best and brightest in Houston's high school musical theatre programs.

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