For many young thespians, the Junior Theater Festival West is a stage dream come true.
The international competition held for theater performers, ages 5-18, is held twice a year – once in Atlanta and the other in Sacramento.
Based in Contra Costa, Poison Apple Productions had two troupes compete. Poison Apple Teens (ages 10-18) performed selections from “Singing in the Rain JR,” while Poison Apple Players (ages 9-14) offered selections from “Elf the Musical JR.”
According to Noelle Arms, Poison Apple founder and artistic director, all participating troupes prepared a 15-minute selection from a licensed MTI musical and performed it for professional Broadway artists, including directors, actors, choreographers, educators, producers, and more.
“A whopping 43 kids” from both troupes joined in the event, including Brentwood’s Abigail Vibat and Bay Point’s Antonia Reed and Niobe Reed.
The students collaborated and performed with a New Works Showcase of the “Children of Eden JR,” the West Coast premiere of the new Broadway JR title set for a fall release.
“Poison Apple was chosen out of 17 companies to showcase and produce this brand-new title specially for the festival for which they were recognized for their outstanding work in showcasing it,” said Arms.
Additionally, the troupes were honored with Excellence in Ensemble work (“Singin’); Outstanding Performance by a male actor (Dawson McDonald of Clayton for his performance as Cosmo Brown); Excellence in Ensemble work (“Elf JR”); Outstanding Performance by a male actor (Nicholas Roth of Clayton for his performance as Buddy the Elf).
Last year, Poison Apple Productions was honored as an Outstanding Production for its15-minute selection of “Fiddler on the Roof JR.”
“The experience was an emotionally enthralling one – with young actors learning about themselves, their favorite art form and realizing they aren’t ‘weird’ or a ‘misfit’ but actually their love for singing and storytelling are in very good company,” Arms said.
Student actor Shalimar Dusich of Concord said “I felt like I was on Broadway” after rehearsing in front of a 1,500-person audience.
In addition to the performances and award presentations, young actors also participated in workshops and enjoyed a concert.
A nonprofit company, Poison Apple Productions is based in Martinez. For more information, visit poisonappleproductions.org and on Facebook and Instagram.
Source: East Bay Poison Apple Productions wins at international competition