Pictured above: students from Play on Players perform a selection from Godspell JR. for the entire festival in 2019.

7,000 theatre kids from around the world will take over the Cobb Galleria this weekend for the Atlanta Junior Theatre Festival. Including 25 student theatre groups from Georgia, the event includes special performances, panels, and workshops from famous theatre artists.

iTheatrics’ 15th Junior Theater Festival welcomes theatre troupes from around the world to present condensed versions of musicals for adjudication, with awards given at the end of the weekend. More than a competition, this festival is about collaboration and opportunities for groups to learn from one another.

For years, local youth theatre groups from Greater Atlanta have attended the festival to great accolades for both students and educators. This year, Duluth’s Play on Players and Lawrenceville’s Red Phoenix Theatre Company have been chosen to perform a selection from Disney’s Newsies JR. together for the entire festival as part of Saturday night’s New Works Showcase.

Below, check out our spotlight on the JTF home team and what musicals they will perform for adjudication!

JTF 2020’s celebrity attendees include: President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher; Caissie Levy (Frozen on Broadway); Nicholas Christopher (Hamilton on Broadway); Jennifer Locke (Hamilton national tour); creator/Executive Producer Tim Federle, Olivia Rodrigo, and Joshua Bassett (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series on Disney +); Luca Padovan and Isabella Russo (School of Rock); Rob Rokicki (The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical); and Lotte Wakeham (Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical).

Broadway stars Justin Paul, Cynthia Erivo, and Benj Pasek own the stage at JTF Atlanta 2019

Play on Players – performing Into the Woods Jr. in the Sky Pod

Play On Players is a children’s theatre company founded by Carly Berg and Haden Rider, who are graduates of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance artist training program, a collaboration of the University of North Georgia and Brenau University, in Gainesville, GA. The Play On Players mission is to Provide Outstanding Productions by young artists who POP on stage.

Students from Play on Players have received high honors at JTF in many years in the past, including last year when they received a Freddie G Outstanding Production award and performed for all 6,600 attendees during the festival’s closing ceremony. Student Bryan Keel also received a Freddie G Award for Excellent Individual Performance by a Male for his performance as Jesus in Godspell.

Red Phoenix Theatre Company – performing Disney’s Frozen JR. in the Green Pod

Red Phoenix Theatre Company is an educational-based theatre company that provides an intense musical theatre experience designed to hone the vocal, acting, and dance skills sets of students who have the desire, discipline, and passion for musical theatre.

Red Phoenix Theatre Company has also enjoyed success at past Junior Theater Festivals, with actor Lawson Burris receiving a Freddie G Award for Excellent Individual Performance by a Male last year.

Play on Players students strike a pose during their adjudication performance of Godspell Jr. at JTF Atlanta 2019

Other Georgia groups include:

Cornerstone Preparatory AcademyMadagascar: A Musical Adventure
Mill Springs Academy- Bugsy Malone JR.
Off Broadway Children’s Theatre- Honk JR.
Northwestern Middle School- Legally Blonde The Musical JR.
Augusta Jr. PlayersMadagascar: a Musical Adventure JR.
Young Actors Playhouse- Once On This Island JR.
Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts Company- Once On This Island JR.
First Redeemer Church’s Acting UpDisney’s Frozen JR.
Holly Performance Academy- Seussical JR.
North Whitfield Middle SchoolSeussical JR.
Camelot Theatre Company- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang JR.
CYT Atlanta- Disney’s Aladdin JR.
Pace School of the Arts- Disney’s and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins JR.
Act3 Arts Academy- Godspell JR.
From the Top TheatricsDisney’s Frozen JR.
Marietta Middle School- Once on This Island JR.
Marietta Sixth Grade AcademyAnnie JR.
St. Joseph Catholic SchoolDisney’s Aladdin JR.
Pride ProductionsDisney’s The Little Mermaid JR.
British Academy of Performing ArtsSeussical JR.
Musical Theatre WorkshopsInto the Woods JR.
Snellville Performing ArtsDisney’s The Little Mermaid JR.
Smoke Rise Academy of Arts DramaDisney’s and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins JR.
North Gwinnett Middle School DramaShrek The Musical, JR.
Suwanee Performing Arts- Godspell JR.

Photo credit: Marcus Woolen

About Sally Henry

A writer with a passion for building relationships and telling people's stories, Sally Henry is a freelance arts and entertainment journalist. She has had the privilege of interviewing both local theatre professionals and multi-award-winning celebrities including Carol Burnett, Matthew Morrison, and Taylor Hicks. With theatre journalism experience since 2011, her work has been featured on BroadwayWorld.com, the Huffington Post, and the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival.

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