BRAVO, the fine arts and performing arts program at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, has done it again.
The troupe of 46 performers will head to the National Junior Theater Festival, being conducted over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in Atlanta, GA.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the talented group will represent Brooks and the entire state of Illinois in one of the most prestigious national competitions of its kind.
The festival is sponsored by iTheatrics, a New York-based organization that takes Broadway shows and changes the keys of the songs to fit younger performers’ voices, shortens the scripts and in the case of such shows as Hairspray, makes them G-rated.
The Saturday night of the festival, the cast will showcase its pilot adaptation of Hairspray Jr., as part of the Disney New Works Showcase. The showcase is performed for all 4,000 festival goers. Only six schools are selected from hundreds of groups to perform select newly adapted musical works, and BRAVO will close the showcase, said Tina Reynolds, BRAVO's director.
This is the fourth year that BRAVO has been honored with the opportunity to perform during the showcase.
BRAVO performed Hairspray last spring before nearly sold-out audiences, Reynolds said.
In addition, the troupe will compete with 84 other schools from 23 states with a 15-minute adaptation of Once on This Island, which was performed in full this fall at Brooks. A panel of distinguished Broadway theater professionals will judge the presentations.
Last year the group won a coveted Outstanding Production for Schoolhouse Rock, Live Jr. Eighth-grader Max Gonzalez took home a top honor as Outstanding Male Performer. Eighth-grader Maggie Lynch and seventh-grader Alex Frendt were selected as Junior Theater Festival All-Stars and performed You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray (BRAVO’s spring production) with 130 other students during the closing awards show. Leo Weinberg, an eighth-grader, was named a Technical All-Star for his prowess behind the scenes.
Seventh graders: Talia Burke, Evelyn Cappelli, Georgia Kay, Aidan Lenehan, Liam Loughran, Kay Mabwa, Nora Paul, Sarah Powers, and Ayanna Sloan.
Eighth graders: Natassia Barnes, Quinn Berleman-Paul, Christen Conley, Grace Crowley, Ishana Euring, Lucy Foreman, Grace Fox, Alex Frendt, Max Gonzalez, Tyler Heggans, Grace Irving, Skylar Jackson, Sydney Jackson, Paul Johnson, Anna Kindler, Abby Klein, Lizzie Maguire, Patricia Meadors, Emma Prescott, Ellen Puhalovich, Grant Reynolds, Kate Richards, Katy Schuller, Logan Scofield, Emma Sher, Cole Tamondong, Gracie Tillotson, and Sophia Zinger.
Ninth graders: Emilio Amaya, Elena Awe, Pierce Boyd-Bagby, Tommy Figel, Margot Frank, Maggie Lynch, Eli Whelan, Patrick Wicklow, Alonte Williams.