• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford Theatre Young Artists win national awards

Woodford Theatre Young Artists received national awards and recognitions during the 2017 Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Ga., from Jan. 13 to 15. The musical theatre students from Woodford Theatre won an Award for Excellence in Acting with their 15-minute group performance from “Alf JR.,” which was lauded by judges at the national festival. “Woodford Theatre Young Artists brought Christmas to Atlanta in January,” said Broadway dancer and director Jeff Calhoun, best known for “Newsies.” “Some of the strongest acting I’ve seen at the festival,” added Amanda Flynn, a professional vocal coach. Besides the Group Award for Excellence, seven Woodford Theatre Young Artists received recognitions for individual talents. “All of the kids surprise me every day with their growth,” said Woodford Theatre education director Vanessa Becker Weig. Woodford Theatre Young Artists Chap Hollin and MaKenna Henehan were named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars for their outstanding performances at the festival. The JTF All-Stars sang during a closing ceremony for the festival’s 6,000 attendees. Woodford Theatre Young Artists Jaid Goh, Kennedy Kruse, Bella Wolfe, Jamie Bradley and Jaxson Becker were five of 142 students who made the call-back list for future Broadway Junior shoots of “how-to” choreography videos in New York City this coming summer. “They were competing with thousands of other kids,” said Weig, “so that was pretty amazing for them to make those final cuts” and get on the call-back list. The 32 students in Woodford Theatre’s Young Artist program also had opportunities to watch other performances, attend workshops, and make connections with student groups from across the country and all over the world during this celebration of musical theatre at Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. “So it’s a really great experience, an opportunity for the kids to be exposed to all different types of theater. And really the connections that they make are huge,” said Weig. The Woodford Theatre Young Artists also attended the Junior Theatre Festival last year, and regularly hone their skills while taking classes taught by a variety of guest artists. “It’s important for them to be exposed to as many working professionals as possible,” explained Weig. “…You can learn a lot from different people.” She said exposing her students “to all different styles” of performance helps to broaden their skills as actors, dancers and singers. The Woodford Theatre Young Artists will continue honing those performance skills in the coming weeks as they prepare for their cabaret-style musical showcase on April 14 and 15 at Woodford Theatre. Visit woodfordtheatre.com for general admission ticket information in the days leading up to the performances.

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