Attending JTF 2015? Get Tips and Advice from Cindy Ripley and the Freddie G Fellows

Attending JTF 2015? Get Tips and Advice from Cindy Ripley and the Freddie G Fellows

Rose Theater Kids - Omaha, Nebraska

Whether you are attending solo for Professional Development to enrich your soul or bringing kids to "strut their stuff', JTF 2015 in Atlanta, GA promises to deliver.  It never fails!  The finely tuned recipe comprised of musical theatre, passionate kids and teachers, plus a dose of magic all in one incredible venue is all it takes.

Just like walking onstage in front of an audience, everyone feels better if they know what to expect, and you will find 4000 new friends that may have a few jitters just like you!  So, I decided to check in with a few that have taken that leap of faith: several of our 2014 Freddie G Winners from last year's festival.  I will second the fact that their advice is tried and true, and the "up close and personal" will give you a heads up when you see them in a few weeks.

Here is a little background from Miriam, Sue, Tessa, Brian and Mary Katherine. I’m sure you will appreciate how diverse these groups are.

Miriam Reynolds has been the director of RMS Drama, an extra-curricular program at Riverwatch Middle School in Suwanee, Georgia for 10 years.  RMS Drama has 85- 95 middle school students in every musical.  Most of the parents of the cast become involved to help make great shows.

Every show is double-cast for all speaking/singing parts.  Practices are more challenging, but more kids have the opportunity to shine.

Sue Booton is the educational director for "The Broadway at The Rose," the musical theater education wing of the Rose Theater, the third largest children’s theater in the U.S. located in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Rose Theater serves up to 10,000 kids per month, and their mission is to provide accessibility for all young people. They have three performing groups within Broadway at The Rose:  Junior Rose Brigade (ages 8-11), Senior Rose Brigade (ages 12-18), and Transcendtrix Dance Company, the student dance company.

Parkway Playhouse Kids – Burnsville, North Carolina

Tessa Derfner is the Arts Coach at P94M-The Spectrum School, New York City's only public school for children with special needs, entirely based in the visual and performing arts. Beginning with a production of "Annie JR." eight years ago, they have worked to build the arts into every subject and to weave every subject into the arts. Each child who enters this school, from ages 5-15, engages in musical theater productions lasting most of the school year. At P94M, they also teach circus arts, architecture, painting and percussion through multiple cultural partnerships throughout our city. Tessa’s school is made up of 8 different sites throughout Manhattan with over 350 students in eight different buildings -- all putting on shows from December to June.

Brian Seagraves is the arts director at The Garden City Recreation Commission located in Garden City, Kansas. They are a state-sanctioned, government entity tied to the city government for a tax base, and receive mill levies accordingly. Brian has run a Summer Youth Musical, with approximately 80 to 100 kids (grades K-12) expanding into Youth Theatre offerings during the school year and Community Theatre shows.

Mary Katherine Smith-Gall is the education director of Parkway Playhouse Junior, which is located in Burnsville, North Carolina.  Parkway Playhouse Junior is the after school education program for the 69 year old professional theatre, Parkway Playhouse. They serve between 75-100 kids each year from 4 surrounding counties and are bringing 24 students to JTF 2015.
Advice for Directors attending JTF 2015:
Miriam: ETM, (Enjoy the Moment), is the best piece of advice I can give to the directors. Bring a portable phone charger to record the workshops, they are great to go back and review.  Sharing ideas via message boards and Facebook is valuable!

Sue:  Always remember we are here to create the joy and magic of children and theater together.  Look over the schedule and try to attend as many performances and workshops as possible! Don't be afraid to ask questions, speak up, and make new friends.

P94M The Spectrum School – New York City

Tessa: Make sure to breathe and remember it's about the small moments as well as the big ones.

Brian:  Network.  Network.  Network! I had the privilege of attending my first JTF as a Professional Development attendee and it was my best decision ever. If I am ever in a spot where I’m not able to bring kids… Professional Development it is!

Mary Katherine: Make sure you have a solid head chaperone to help make sure everyone knows where they are assigned to be and when. Pick someone who can think creatively and solve any problems that may come up if/when you are not available for questions.

GCRC Kids – Garden City, Kansas

Advice FROM kids, TO kids attending JTF 2015:
• Everything is an opportunity. Just go for it!

• Be nice to people

• Don't forget to drink plenty of water.

• The judges won't kill you. They are really nice!

• Don't get lost.

• Be social and meet everyone you can.

• Get involved with as many activities as you can.

• Go have fun and be you!