2 November 2023

Parks Theatre takes out national award

Students from The Parks Youth Theatre won a group award for Most Outstanding Production at the 2023 Junior Theatre Festival Australia, which was presented in Newcastle on October 27 & 28.

On Saturday 28 October, 24 finalist groups from all states in Australia as well as a group from New Zealand competed in person for the prestigious awards that are judged by a panel of international visiting artists from Broadway and West End.

Junior Theatre Festival allows students and teachers representing a diverse number of theatre programs to come together to share their talents, cheer each other on, and be part of an international community of people who care as much about the art form as much as they do.

The event is part of the global Junior Theatre Festivals circuit, conceived by iTheatrics in New York, which take place in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. A “rousing celebration of theatre” (The New York Times), the Junior Theatre Festivals are the world's largest events exclusively dedicated to celebrating young people and student-driven musical theatre. In 2022, nearly 20,000 people worldwide attended a Junior Theatre Festival.

The 25 students, ages 12 to 17, presented selections from Disney’s Aladdin JR., for leading musical theatre personalities from the USA.

“Each of the student participants had the unique opportunity to receive tips from some of the world’s best producers, directors and writers who joined us from New York” said Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) co-producer Shane Bransdon.

“As a major treat, the students got to meet celebrity performer Rob Mills, who is currently touring with the hit musical “Romeo & Juliet”.

The Junior Theatre Festival Australia 2023 would not be possible without generous funding grants from Music Theatre International (MTI) and the City of Newcastle. Stuart Hendricks from MTI commended the JTF Australia team on their monumental pivoting efforts to deliver the event.

“Around the world, Junior Theatre Festivals offer young people the opportunity to bond with their peers in an immersive celebration of the art form they love,” said Mr Hendricks. "MTI is committed to promoting the value of theatre in education and giving performers additional opportunities to demonstrate their talents and to support and learn from each other."

YMCA Regional Development Manager, Craig Hortin said “we're extremely proud of the contribution of both Ceri and Bec and dedication they give to providing opportunities for the youth in our community to be engaged in a medium that is their passion and provides them a platform to excel".

“The award is outstanding and well-deserved recognition for a sustained contribution that was conceived prior to the CV-19 pandemic impacts” Hortin said.