The cast of Ghostlight Performing Arts Company’s premiere production, Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR, attended the Junior Theatre Festival the weekend of January 18th, where they performed 15 minute segment of the show for three adjudicators. This year, our adjudicators were Derek Bowley (a DC-based theatre educator who has worked with the Kennedy Center on multiple occasions), Karen Sharp (the Education Director for Seattle Children’s Theatre), and Andy Jones (a Broadway performer whose credits include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and the upcoming production of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway). The cast was applauded for their characterization and the sense of unity as a company.
Throughout the weekend, the festival was graced with the presence of Broadway performers such as Andrew Keenan Bolger (an original company member of Disney’s Newises who brought to life the character of Crutchie), Henry Hodges (a company member of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins), and composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (who have written the scores for Broadway’s A Christmas Story- The Musical, Off-Broadway’s Dogfight, and James and the Giant Peach, which recently concluded a run at Seattle Children’s Theatre).
Following their adjudication, eight of our students received invitations to audition for a series of Choreography DVDs that MTI sends out with the materials of all Broadway JR and KIDS shows. Of these eight, two received callbacks to continue the audition process on Sunday morning. From each group, two students are chosen as Performance All-Stars who will then perform in front of the festival’s nearly 4,000 attendees with the rest of the All-Stars. This year, the honor went to our students performing the roles of Prince Eric and Ursula. Additionally, the actress playing Ariel attended workshops for technical theatre. Based on her performance during these workshops, she was selected as a Technical Theatre All-Star and given the opportunity to work backstage at Sunday’s Awards Ceremony. One student, the actor portraying Scuttle, was selected to participate in the Broadway JR Slam, in which students are paired up with a director, a choreographer, and a music director, and are given an hour to learn a musical number and perform it in front of the festival.
Sunday evening, the cast was treated to a special event produced specifically for the festival- Broadway and Beyond: An Evening with the Stars of Disney on Broadway. The evening featured Ashley Brown (who originated the role of Mary Poppins on Broadway), Josh Strickland (who originated the role of Tarzan on Broadway), Merle Dandridge (a company member of AIDA who originated the role of Kala in Tarzan on Broadway), Alton Fitzgerald White (who currently plays Mufasa in The Lion King on Broadway), and Heidi Blickenstaff (who portrayed the role of Ursula during the run of The Little Mermaid on Broadway).
During the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon, Ghostlight Performing Arts Company’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR was awarded for Excellence in Acting. This award was presented to 12 groups out of the 94 in attendance. At this time, we would like to express our gratitude for this overwhelming honor and the monolithic pride we feel for this fantastic cast. This was truly the greatest way to bring an end to the eight month journey this cast and crew have been on.
With that, our 2013 programming has drawn to a close. An announcement regarding our 2014 season will be made in the coming weeks.