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Lip Sync Battle To Raise Awareness Of 'Social Bullying'

The contest is open to solo or duo acts from elementary through high school students.

A Lip Sync Battle to raise awareness of "Social Bullying" begins Monday, April 26th, with $500 cash prizes and Judges that are stars of Broadway and music! The contest is open to solo or duo acts from elementary through high school students who may submit their 1-2 minute videos lip-syncing to the cast recording of the song "ONCE FRIENDS" from the 8x Broadway World Award-winning show, "IT'S EASY! The Friend Strong Musical""

The Battle is run by the not-for-profit Be A Friend Project, a national organization whose mission is Bullying Prevention and Victim Support/BY KIDS FOR KIDS and is the exclusive licensor of the anti-bullying musical to educational entities. The Project was inspired in 2015 by members of the debut cast of "IT'S EASY!" from the Riverdale "Y" Rising Stars JR theater program in New York City who asked the show's Co-Playwrights, Jennifer Young and January Akselrad (Composer), for a way to continue the "speak up, reach out and be a friend" message off-stage. The Project has since delivered close to 30,000 personal letters of peer support to victims of bullying to help them stay strong and know they are not alone - giving as many K-12 students the opportunity to practice empathy by stepping-into-the-shoes of a peer.

"ONCE FRIENDS" Lip Sync Video Submissions are due May 10th by 10pm. The first round of judging will be conducted by Junior Judges who are all Teen Ambassadors of the Be A Friend Project and have played a part in bringing the message of "IT'S EASY!" to life on stage and in the recording studio: Aidan Duver, Kylie Hogan, Maggie Lockwood, Ziaire Mickell, Lauren Salomon and Brielle Withers. Nine finalist videos will be selected by the Junior Judges to move on to the Finalist Judges who will then select the top prize winners of $500 & awesome gift baskets - one from each of the three categories of Elementary, Middle and High School Students. Judging will be based on Lip Sync ability, video appearance and portrayal of the Social Bullying theme.

Finalist Judges volunteering their time for the anti-bullying cause are Tony-nominated Euan Morton (Hamilton's reigning "King George III"), January Akselrad (Composer/Co-Playwright of It's Easy!), Jennifer Gambatese (most recently starring on Broadway as "Miranda Hillard" in Mrs. Doubtfire), Lili Thomas (last seen pre-pandemic at The Tony Kiser Theatre in We're Gonna Die), Gwen Laster (internationally acclaimed Violinist, Composer and Educator) and BT McNicholl (Director, Producer, Writer).

Also called "Covert Bullying" because it's often done behind the backs of its victims, Social Bullying accounts for approximately 18% of all bullying. It's the kind of peer cruelty that involves hurting someone's reputation or relationships - on purpose - such as spreading rumors, lies, gossip or graffiti to embarrass and harm someone. The public humiliation caused by Social Bullying can be done in person or virtually by mimicking someone unkindly, not allowing a victim to be part of the group and telling friends not to talk to them.

It's a fact that "social pain" tends to produce the most severe stress and the strongest emotional reaction for victims of bullying. Contestants who learn the story arc of the song "ONCE FRIENDS" (a duet by a middle school girl and her former BFF who just dumped her for the "popular girls" who bully her) will step-into-the-shoes of the characters to learn about Social Bullying and its consequences. To quote Ms. Akselrad, the song's composer, "What kids learn through theater, they never forget."

Battle Guidelines and Video Submission details can all be found at www.beafriendproject.org/battle. Winners will be announced on June 1st, 2021.


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