Australian Students to Pilot Disney’s Newsies JR. at Junior Theatre Celebration Australia

Australian Students to Pilot Disney’s Newsies JR. at Junior Theatre Celebration Australia

By Nikol McKail on May 31, 2017

Australian Students to
Pilot Disney’s Newsies JR. at
Junior Theatre Celebration Australia

Australian Young Performers Will Collaborate with
New York City Theatre Professionals on

New Student Edition of Classic Musical

A cast of 40 young Australians will take part in an exciting week-long pilot of Newsies JR., a new student version of the 2012 Tony-winning Disney Theatrical Productions Broadway production. The select group of students will participate in an intensive workshop on Monday 23rd – Friday 27th October 2017, the week leading up to the second annual Junior Theatre Celebration Australia (JTCOz) event, which will be held at the Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 28th October, 2017.

Newsies JR. is a 60-minute version of the stage musical, which in turn was based on the 1992 musical film “Newsies,” inspired by the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.  The musical features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Newsies JR. is a new version adapted for student performers and will be performed by educational musical theatre programs in the future through Music Theatre International.

Now in its second year, the 2017 Junior Theatre Celebration Australia (JTCOz) provides an opportunity for young Australians ages eight to 18 years to celebrate their love of musicals and experience the transformative power of theatre.  The event is produced by OzTheatrics and the AMICI Trust, in collaboration with international partner iTheatrics and sponsor Music Theatre International (Australasia).

The Newsies JR. pilot offers young people who love musicals the opportunity to be part of a process that mirrors the demands of developing a musical in the professional theatre world. Rehearsals are fast-paced and intense. The workshop culminates in a staged presentation of the show. 

Throughout the week, dialogue, music and choreography are work-shopped and tested to ensure the musical adaptation is suitable to be performed by student musical theatre performers. Students get to perform with peers who care just as much about the arts as they do. Because the young thespians are performing a musical that is actively being developed, the production will focus on storytelling and not production values.

The pilot program is coordinated by Aussie based organisation OzTheatrics, and will be directed by Timothy Allen McDonald, musical theatre author (Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Between the Lines) and founding chairman of iTheatrics New York; Marty Johnson, iTheatrics Director of Education and Resident Director, New York; and Steven G. Kennedy, iTheatrics Resident Choreographer, New York.

iTheatrics is the leading international authority on musical theatre for young people, headquartered in New York City. Timothy Allen McDonald founded iTheatrics in 2001 as a way of making theatre more accessible for young people and, in turn, leads a dynamic and talented group of artists and educators who are indeed changing the world through the transformative power of musical theatre.

The Junior Theatre Celebration Australia (JTCOz) draws groups representing primary and secondary public and private schools, along with private acting academies from all over Australia, including many Novocastrian participants, such as Hunter Drama and Young People’s Theatre.  A host of national and international musical theatre celebrities will travel to Newcastle for the event and to be part of the Newsies JR. premiere. 

At the 2017 Junior Theatre Celebration, Australia youth theatre groups will perform a 10-minute extract of their Broadway JR™ production for adjudication by industry professionals, take part in triple-threat workshops, and will be honoured in a culminating awards and closing ceremony.

“It’s fitting that for our first-ever pilot production in Australia, we are working on a show about young people creating a better world through imagination and determination. We have been so impressed by the world-class artistry we have seen from student performers representing Australia at our U.S. Junior Theatre Festivals and at the past Junior Theatre Celebration in Australia. We knew it was time to celebrate their dedication, creativity and storytelling by giving them a different kind of role in the international educational theatre scene.”  - Timothy Allen McDonald, musical theatre author, Newsies JR. director and founder of New York’s iTheatrics

“MTI Australasia is so excited to be able to support the development of up-and-coming musical theatre stars in this country. We can’t wait to see what they create during the Pilot week.”Stuart Hendricks, Managing Director of Music Theatre International (Australasia)

“Applications are now open for students to submit an audition tape to participate in this new pilot program. However, students can only be selected if their group has registered for the Junior Theatre Celebration.” - Shane Bransdon, from OzTheatrics

“This is quite a coup for Newcastle and Australia, which once again recognises our ability to be creating world-class young performers right here in Australia. We are extremely grateful that Disney has allowed us permission to test their show.” - Daniel Stoddart, from OzTheatrics

Basic Details:

  • Pilot Week: Monday 23rd – Friday 27th October 2017