SUGAR LAND, Texas (Feb. 11, 2020) – Inspiration Stage brought a company of 44 young performers, ages nine through 18, to the 2020 Junior Theatre Festival West in Sacramento, Calif. over the weekend. JTF is the largest celebration of musical theatre for young people, offering: adjudications with constructive feedback from industry experts; educational sessions led by Broadway stars and other industry leaders; performances by Broadway stars; and dance, vocal and acting workshops for the student attendees.
“JTF West 202O celebrates our tenth Junior Theatre Festival. JTF has become such an important part of our journey here at Inspiration Stage. Our kids look forward to these events each year and JTF delivers with a professional festival filled with talented individuals from the industry, stellar workshops, amazing adjudications and plenty of performance opportunities for our youth to shine,” says Inspiration Stage’s artistic director, Mandy Seymore-Sensat. “We strive at Inspiration Stage to be masterful storytellers, to bring heart to our art and to inspire all who enter our doors. I could not be prouder of our team and actors who breathed life Into the Woods.”
After performing a 15-minute cut of the musical, Into the Woods JR., for adjudicators, Inspiration Stage was awarded an Excellence in Music. Inspiration Stage’s pod of performers included seven other theatre companies, each performing its own 15-minute cut of a different musical.
“JTF is always a thrilling, inspiring experience, and this festival was no different. Typically Into the Woods JR is presented with a smaller cast of just principle characters and does not include an ensemble. Our director Mandy Seymore-Sensat conceived the idea to incorporate a large ensemble who became trees, giants, spells and other enchanting storytellers throughout the piece,” says Music Director Sarah Patterson. “As music director I got to create new vocalizations and musical arrangements written specifically for the ensemble as they remained onstage for nearly the entire show. It was an honor to be recognized for the tremendous journey our company members undertook to present an already difficult musical score in an entirely new way. I’m so proud of our students for embracing the unknown and rising to the challenge.”
The most prestigious individual award of the entire festival, and the last award presented in Sunday’s ceremony, went to Inspiration Stage’s Lizzie Tyer, 16, of Greatwood in Sugar Land, for her portrayal of the Witch in Into the Woods JR. She won the All-Festival Individual Performance Award, an award presented to just two individual actors for the entire festival. It’s the first time an Inspiration Stage student has been recognized with this distinguished award in the company’s 10 appearances at JTF Atlanta and JTF West.
“I love attending JTF because you get to share your love for the performing arts with others that share the same passion. I’ve been blessed to have had many extraordinary experiences at JTF with Inspiration Stage over the past several years,” Tyer says. “Winning the All-Festival Individual Performance Award is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far, and I was grateful for the recognition of my hard work, but mostly I was honored to have represented Inspiration Stage in this way. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the guidance of my directors, Mandy and Sarah, and without the support from my cast and crew.”
Madison Willet, 16, and Andrew Sackett, 16, were selected as the Inspiration Stage company All-Stars by the adjudicators, and performed a number on stage with all of the festival All-Stars.
Six Inspiration Stage youth received Golden Tickets — special invitations to audition for the opportunity to appear in MTI instructional guide choreography DVDs distributed with its Broadway Jr. series of shows. Three iStagers — Aly Gregorek (Ensemble), 13, Nic Schweers (Jack), 12, and Elyse Simmons (Ensemble), 11 — received callbacks for second round auditions. Final winners will be contacted in March if they are invited to film in New York City.
In other iStage news, Summer Camp 2020 has just been announced with 25 youth summer camps for kids ages five through 19. Camps include Moana JR., Frozen JR., Aristocats KIDS, Willy Wonka KIDS, Aladdin KIDS, Little Mermaid JR. and more. For information and to sign up, visit https://inspirationstage.com/Summer/.
Don’t miss the remaining shows in Inspiration Stage’s 2019/2020 modified season, including:
- Honk JR, Feb. 28 – March 1
- Disney’s Moana JR, March 27 – April 5
- Annie KIDS, April 17 – 19
- A Chorus Line High School Edition, May 1 – 3
For more information about auditioning or for ticket sales, visit https://inspirationstage.com/shows/.
Inspiration Stage is a national award-winning performance arts studio located in the historic Sugar Land Auditorium at 226 Lakeview Dr. The 2019/2020 season includes ten youth productions, as well as acting and production classes, and 25 camps for Summer 2020. Tuition assistance is available to qualifying participants. For tickets and information, visit www.inspirationstage.com.