MTI Europe Presents 2nd Annual Junior Theatre Celebration

Music Theatre International (Europe), one of the world's leading theatrical licensing agencies, is proud to announce the second annual Junior Theatre Celebration (JTC), to be held at Leicester Curve on Sunday, 3 June. The event provides an opportunity for young students to celebrate their love of musicals and experience the transformative power of theatre.

The day-long Junior Theatre Celebration programme will feature 18 schools and youth groups from across the UK and Ireland, with performers ranging in age from 7 to 18, presenting excerpts from specially-created Broadway Junior shows for adjudication, and will include: Singin' in the Rain, Legally Blonde, Annie, Disney's Aladdin, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins, and more. Participants will also enjoy an afternoon Q&A with special guests George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Mary Poppins, Half a Sixpence, Honk!); workshops presented by teaching artists from the West End productions of Disney's Aladdin, Mamma Mia! and Shrek the Musical; and an evening concert performed by Rachel Tucker.

The Junior Theatre Celebration is based on the Junior Theater Festivals, the world's largest festivals exclusively dedicated to celebrating young people and student-driven musical theatre which are produced by the New York City based iTheatrics and take place on both U.S. coasts each year. The 2018 Junior Theater Festivals were covered by The New York Times and brought together 7,500+ students and educators from 165+ educational musical theatre groups representing 38 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and Canada. One-day Junior Theatre Celebrations based on the same iTheatrics festival model take place annually across the US and in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2017, nearly 15,000 worldwide people attended a Junior Theater Festival or Junior Theater Celebration.

Conceived in 1996 by MTI Co-Chairman Freddie Gershon, Broadway Junior musicals are condensed, author-approved versions of classic musicals, Disney favourites, and modern works, custom-tailored to the needs of young people and schools. Developed by renowned educators and designed to suit school assemblies as well as the energies and attention spans of younger performers, Broadway Junior musicals are perfect for teachers or directors who are new to musical theatre and seeking to introduce students to the joys of participating in a show. Bringing different groups together to share their Broadway Junior experiences has led to annual Junior Theatre Celebrations across the USA and Australia and now, the UK. Following the UK's Inaugural JTC at Leicester Curve in March of last year, this year's edition sold out four months in advance, with twice as many participants. Plans are already underway for JTC '19, and will be announced at this year's event.

"The Junior Theatre Celebration is a unique opportunity for young performers of all experience levels to share their talents in a positive and nurturing environment over the course of a fun-filled day, while receiving constructive feedback from Industry professionals," said Drew Cohen, President and CEO of MTI. "Sharing their art with these theatre professionals, and alongside their peers, highlights the collaborative and community-building aspects of theatre in a way that is meaningful not just for the JTC attendees, but for those of us who organise the event as well. I am especially delighted" Cohen added, "that the JTC has been so warmly embraced in the UK. Our second annual JTC at Curve is building on the great response we had from last year's programme, and we're already looking forward to JTC '19."

Broadway Junior titles are developed by MTI in association with the skilled team at iTheatrics in New York City. Among the MTI titles available in Broadway Junior formats are such classics as: Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys & Dolls, Hairspray, Honk!, Into the Woods, The Music Man, Once on This Island, Seussical, Shrek, Singin' in the Rain, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Xanadu, and Disney's Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, among others. Started in America, Broadway Junior is also proving to be popular with schools and youth groups across the UK and Europe, and recently earned the Best Musical Theatre Education Resource prize, sponsored by the Schools Printed Music Licence, at this year's UK Music Teacher Awards.

Music Theatre International has long been proud of its initiatives to bring musicals and students closer together. MTI's innovations have included not only the creation of the Broadway Junior and Broadway Kids series, but also specially-created School Editions of such musicals as LES MISERABLES, Rent, Sweeney Todd, and Miss Saigon, as well as breaking with tradition by arranging for schools to perform these musicals simultaneous with their Broadway or West End productions.

Participating groups will spend the first half of the day presenting scenes from their Broadway Junior productions in front of fellow guests and a specially-selected panel of Adjudicators, including Andrew Wright, Anthony Drewe, Debbie Isitt, George Dyer, Lotte Wakeham and Tim Jackson, as well as Timothy Allen McDonald, musical theatre author (Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Between the Lines) and founding chairman of iTheatrics; Marty Johnson, iTheatrics Director of Education and Resident Director; and Steven G. Kennedy, iTheatrics Resident Choreographer.

Interactive workshops take centre stage during the afternoon with teaching artists from the West End productions of Disney's Aladdin, Mamma Mia! and Shrek the Musical hosting masterclasses with the young participants. (See below) Students will have the opportunity to attend acting workshops presented by Lotte Wakeham whilst group leaders and teachers attend their own sessions hosted by the experienced team from iTheatrics.

The day-long event concludes with an Awards Ceremony and Showcase on Sunday evening. All participants will gather in the main theatre to enjoy an evening of celebration and presentation. Outstanding performances from the morning adjudications will be showcased on stage and performers will be honoured with awards in music, dance, acting and ensemble. There will be a unique Question & Answer segment with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, with the evening culminating in a special concert by Rachel Tucker with special guest Mark Dugdale. Kris Rawlinson provides musical direction.

ABOUT THE AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS:

  • WORKSHOP 1 - ARABIAN NIGHTS: Your wishes come true as you learn the iconic music and inventive choreography to Disney's Aladdin, the West End's spectacular hit musical. Disney Teaching Artists will lead you on a magical journey to the wondrous world of Agrabah.
  • WORKSHOP 2 - DANCE WITH MAMMA MIA!: Say I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do to learning a song and dance routine on stage with an ex Dance Captain of MAMMA MIA! - the ultimate feel-good West End musical!
  • WORKSHOP 3 - SHREK THE MUSICAL SINGING WORKSHOP: Let your Freak Flag fly as Musical Supervisor Alan Williams brings you a dynamic singing workshop.

MTI Europe is housed in the London offices of its long-standing agent, Josef Weinberger Ltd., working with the same Weinberger organisation that has served the UK theatre community for decades. MTI Europe joins Melbourne-based MTI Australasia as part of a global expansion for the New York based theatrical rights company, MTI (Music Theatre International). Owned by Cameron Mackintosh, MTI was co-founded in 1952 by legendary Broadway songwriter Frank Loesser and orchestrator Don Walker. In the European market alone, MTI licenses more than 4,800 productions a year, to more than 16,000 professional theatres, amateur societies and schools, totalling more than 20,000 performances involving over 200,000 households and reaching an audience of 6,000,000. Across its catalogue of more than 400 titles, MTI represents the world's greatest collection of musicals, including: Broadway classics (Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Annie); contemporary Broadway hits (Matilda, Once, Come From Away, Waitress); the ground-breaking works of Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Follies, A Little Night Music); global titles such as Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, Kinky Boots and Billy Elliot; Cameron Mackintosh-produced hits LES MISERABLES, and Miss Saigon; Disney's High School Musical, and Beauty and the Beast; and the Mackintosh and Disney-produced Mary Poppins. MTI believes that access to the arts is a right, not a privilege, and is therefore deeply committed to arts education. MTI's ground-breaking initiative, Broadway Junior conceived by MTI Co-Chairman Freddie Gershon, brings special versions of classic Broadway and West End musicals to teachers or directors new to musical theatre; these condensed, author-approved versions of classic musicals, Disney favourites, and contemporary hits, are custom-tailored to the needs of young people. For secondary schools, MTI's School Edition musicals are author-approved adaptations of works whose content and production requirements previously proved challenging for student performers. For more on MTI Europe, visit www.mtishows.co.uk.

Founded in 2006 by educator and author Timothy Allen McDonald, and headquartered in New York City, iTheatrics is the world's leading authority on musical theatre for young people. Every day iTheatrics works to make theatre more accessible for students everywhere and, in turn, leads a dynamic and talented group of artists and educators who are indeed changing the world through the transformative power of musical theatre. iTheatrics develops collections of musicals for leading musical theatre licensing agencies. Working with esteemed partners in the Unites States such as the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities, New York City's Department of Education, the Kennedy Center, McGraw-Hill Education and NBC Universal, iTheatrics develops and implements dynamic programs to build cost-effective and sustainable musical theatre programs in underserved schools. iTheatrics produces the now bi-coastal Junior Theater Festivals, the world's largest festivals exclusively dedicated to celebrating young people and student-driven musical theatre.

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