BRAVO Program Earns Prestigious Awards at the National Junior Theater Festival
January 24, 2013
The BRAVO program earned several prestigious awards at the National Junior Theater Festival, including Outstanding Production for its production of Once on this Island.
Forty-six students from Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School's BRAVO program were among the 4000 individuals from 23 states who traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2013 Junior Theater Festival. BRAVO was one of eight groups out of 82 total to earn the festival's coveted honor of Outstanding Production for its production of Once on this Island—making it the fourth consecutive year the group has won the award.
It was also the fourth consecutive year BRAVO was invited to participate in the Disney Theatrical New Works Showcase, which was attended by all festival attendees. This year, the group performed Hairspray, Jr. and received accolades for their efforts from a number of the dignitaries who were on hand, including Jeff Calhoun, the Broadway director of Newsies; Alan Menken, the composer of Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Hercules; Thomas Schumacher, the president and producer of Disney Theatricals; and representatives from iTheatrics, Music Theater International, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Playbill and Oh TV.
There were several additional highlights from the festival, including:
- BRAVO received an Excellence in Dance award.
- As winner of Outstanding Production, BRAVO was invited to perform during the awards ceremony held on Sunday, January 20.
- Eighth grader Natassia Barners and seventh grader Aidan Lenehan were awarded JTF All-Stars, and earned the opportunity to perform a special production number with the other All-Stars during the awards banquet.
- Five students were interviewed by Playbill.com following the conclusion of the Showcase and will be featured in the Broadway publication in an article about their performance of Hairspray, Jr.
- Seven students made it through cuts and call-backs, and will be notified in a few weeks if they are selected to go to New York to film the newest choreography DVD produced by Broadway Jr's iTheatrics. These students included Emilio Amaya, Elena Awe, Max Gonzalez, Maggie Lynch, Grant Reynolds, Alonte Williams and Sophia Zinger.
- Tina Reynolds, the artistic director for BRAVO, and the directors from two other programs had the opportunity to perform the song “Beautiful City” for Freddie Gershon, the CEO of MTI who was recognized during the awards ceremony for his contributions to Broadway Jr.
- On Martin Luther King Day, students from the group performed “We Tell the Story,” the finale from Once on this Island, in front of the Ebenezer Church. A flash mob of their performance can be viewed by visiting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mxWa_-hts4&feature=youtu.be.
BRAVO’s Junior Theater Festival student cast included seventh graders Talia Burke, Evelyn Cappelli, Georgia Kay, Aidan Lenehan, Liam Loughran, Kay Mabwa, Nora Paul, Sarah Powers, and Ayanna Sloan; eighth graders Natassia Barnes, Quinn Berleman-Paul, Christen Conley, Grace Crowley, Ishana Euring, Lucy Foreman, Grace Fox, Alex Frendt, Max Gonzalez, Tyler Heggans, Grace Irving, Skylar Jackson, Sydney Jackson, Paul Johnson, Anna Kindler, Abby Klein, Lizzie Maguire, Patricia Meadors, Emma Prescott, Ellen Puhalovich, Grant Reynolds, Kate Richards, Katy Schuller, Logan Scofield, Emma Sher, Cole Tamondong, Gracie Tillotson, and Sophia Zinger; and ninth graders Emilio Amaya, Elena Awe, Pierce Boyd-Bagby, Tommy Figel, Margot Frank, Maggie Lynch, Eli Whelan, Patrick Wicklow, Alonte Williams.
In addition to Tina Reynolds, the cast was led by Dantriell Houston, choreographer; Jazmine Reynolds, assistant choreographer, Cameron Burgess and Erin Pettitt, musical directors; and Lisa Morrow, costume and hair designer and coordinator.
Additional information about the BRAVO program can be accessed by visiting https://sites.google.com/site/brooksbravo/.