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Posted: January 6, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Bright lights, big city

Students from Social Circle Theater to take the stage at the 2010 Junior Theater Festival in Atlant

Submitted photo/

Life's a stage: Students from the Social Circle Theater will be presenting parts of the play "Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior" in Atlanta on Jan. 15-17. They will also have the opportunity to attend workshops led by professionals from Broadway and...

Students from Social Circle Theater have been accepted into the invitation-only 2010 Junior Theater Festival taking place in Atlanta Jan. 15-17.

The 18 students, ages 7-17, are from Conyers, Covington, and Social Circle, and they will present selections from the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior" for adjudication. Social Circle Theater thanks the Walton Foundation for their help in sending the children to JTF 2010.

The Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest musical theater festival dedicated to groups working with elementary and middle school students and is presented by Music Theatre International and is hosted and produced by iTheatrics and Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars.

The 2010 Festival will be held at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta and will allow more than 1,500 students, teachers, and Broadway professionals to raise their voices in celebration of on-stage and backstage excellence in musical theater.

Social Circle Theater students performed "Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior" at the theatre in July.

Drawing over 1,500 attendees from nearly 50 schools and educational theater groups from across the United States and Canada, the Junior Theater Festival offers an enthusiastic environment for students and teachers to interact with hundreds of others who share their passion for musical theater.

Each group performs a 15-minute selection of a musical for professional adjudication by a panel of distinguished theater professionals. In addition, both students and teachers participate in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals, gain from professional development, enjoy theatrical fellowship and attend a world-class professional production of Annie at the fabulous Fox Theatre.

At the 2009 Festival, Social Circle Theater presented "Godspell Jr." for Ken Cerniglia, dramaturg and literary manager for Disney Productions, iTheatrics master teacher Cindy Ripley, leading choreographer and Butler University Professor Kenny Shepard and Pat Briggs, the retired director of the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre.

The adjudicators told the students that they showed great presence and the students earned an Outstanding Achievement: Acting award. At the 2007 festival the Social Circle Theater students were awarded an "Outstanding Production" award.

"The Junior Theater Festival celebrates innovation, enthusiasm, and collaboration," said Timothy A. McDonald, Founding Chairman of iTheatrics. "It allows groups from across the country to show the many ways young people with different interests can work together as a creative team to tell a story musically.

In turn, professionals from theater and education encourage teachers and students to achieve their personal best by offering them immediate feedback, support, and ideas."

"The ultimate goal of the Junior Theater Festival is to celebrate and nurture the love of musical theater in young people," added Nick Manos, president of Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars. "We believe that this exposure will help these students perform better in all areas of school and grow up to be more well rounded and productive citizens. They will also be our artists and audiences of the future."

This year, the festival will pay tribute to the leadership and dedication of Music Theatre International Chairman Freddie Gershon by renaming its annual student awards for excellence in theater "The FreddieG’s." In 1995, he created MTI Education, the first educational division in a major musical theater licensing firm, which over the past 15 years has literally transformed the marketplace for age appropriate performance material for young performers.

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