TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Twenty-three seventh-and eighth-grade students from Pocantico Hills represented the school district at a celebration of musical theater, creativity and arts along with more than 4,500 children from across the United States, South Korea, New Zealand and Canada over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.
Under the direction of Sheila DePaola and Melissa Lupi, the students dissected the script of "Hairspray Jr.," to functionally tell the story within a fifteen minute adjudicated piece.
Deidre Kelly Lavarkas of the Kennedy Center and David Weinstein of New York City provided constructive criticism and praise to the students, fostering further growth and dedication to the theater arts.
Students participated in workshops with Broadway and theater professionals from around the nation around the themes of acting, dancing and singing. Tom Schumacher, president of Disney explained to students the behind the scenes creative works that transformed "The Lion King" into the story that fans love today. Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson Lopez discussed their success with the composing pieces for the movie "Frozen" and performed for and with students.
The Pocantico Players were honored to receive an award for "Excellence in Acting" at the Freddie G Student Award Ceremony, Freddie Gershon, president of Music Theater International congratulated students as they accepted their awards. Eighth-grader Zara Singer was recognized for "Excellence in Student Choreagraphy."
Eighth-grader Lyndsey Minerva was honored with "Best Lead Female Performance."
"It was absolutely energizing, I feel amazing," Alyssa Olmeda, eighth-grader commented after the students performed in their adjudication performance.
"The experience is impossible to describe, I learned so much in such a short period of time and couldn't have imagined what an awesome experience this would be," Abby Ward, eighth grader added.
The students will now share their knowledge and skills with their fellow students as they begin work on the full production of "Hairspray Jr." with a cast of more than 70 students for performances on Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.