Camelot Theatre, Studio D students showcase theatrical skills in Atlanta



Three youth from Griffin are waiting to hear if they will be chosen to participate in the filming of performing arts DVDs in New York City after attending a musical-theater based festival earlier this month.

Faith Flanders, her brother Hayden Flanders and their friend Ben Brown were each selected for the possible performing roles after attending the 2014 Junior Theater Festival at the Cobb Galleria Centre from Jan. 17  to 19.

The three attended the festival as part of a 29-member delegation from Studio D Productions out of the Griffin-based Studio D School of Dance.

“I always get nervous before I perform, but not as nervous as I used to get, so I wasn’t too nervous this time,” Faith Flanders said in a recent phone interview with The Grip. “I was nervous about my voice, wondering if it was going to hold out, because we had been rehearsing a lot and I had started to lose my voice halfway through the week. Other than that I think it was a super comfortable environment.”

The Junior Theater Festival is held each year and brings together people from all aspects of theatre, ranging from students and teachers to Broadway professionals, under one roof to celebrate outstanding student musical theatre productions, according to the website  Any school, after-school or community theater group that has done or is planning to do a Broadway Jr. or KIDS collection show is eligible to attend.

“It is a celebration of students from all over the country that come to the Cobb Galleria. They perform in front of adjudicators that are Broadway level people – actors, dancers, singers and producers.” Jason Brown, Musical Director with Studio  D Productions, said. “Each group is a member of a pod, and this year there were 12 total pods. Within each pod there are seven or eight groups. All the groups get to watch each other perform and judges will give advice on their performances. Out of those groups, they pick nine groups in total to do a performance in front of the whole venue, in front of more than 4,000 people attending.”

Based on their  audition performances at the Junior Theater Festival, Faith Flanders, Hayden Flanders and Ben Brown were each chosen for a callback as possible individual performers within seven shows that will be filmed in New York City in  June and eventually be distributed to a worldwide audience.

Lori Flanders is the Artistic Director of Studio D Productions and traveled with the group to Atlanta to encourage and mentor the Studio D representatives. As part of the Studio D performance, the group chose selections from their upcoming musical “Seussical Jr.”

“Each Broadway junior show comes with a choreography DVD in it for teachers and students that may need help with choreography. It’s like a teaching aide. In the summer time they pick a group of kids. Out of 4,000 it is narrowed down to 40 kids. Then out of those 40 kids they will bring 29 to New York City that will get to help make the DVD,” Lori Flanders said.

The narrowing down takes place through callbacks, which are first announced at the Festival. Faith, Hayden and Ben are now waiting to hear if any one of them will be chosen for this year’s filming. Faith, who has been selected before, played down any anxiety when asked about her thoughts for this year’s possible east coast trip.

“Honestly you have to put it in perspective. You never know what they are looking for in a particular summer because you don’t know what shows that they are filming. It’s not that you don’t have the skill set to do it but they might need some older kids or younger kids or have questions about height. You can’t take anything personally. You still learn a lot regardless of whether you got it or not. You just wait and hope for the best,” Faith Flanders said.

In addition to other schools and theater groups from around the country, Studio D had some friendly competition from Griffin this year when Camelot Theatre sent 20 kids ages 7 – 17 to attend the Festival in Atlanta.

Camelot performed a piece from the stage show “My Son Pinocchio, Jr.” Although Camelot Theatre did not win any awards, each performer came back exhausted but proud.

“We performed a piece full of drama and harmonies and nailed it. I could not be more proud of our performance. It was a fantastic experience for everyone. It was amazing to attend with the other 92 theatres and more than 4,000 kids. There’s nothing like it,” Brad Fowler with Camelot Theatre stated.

For Lori Flanders, the performances of her 29 students paid off well this year — in addition to possible worldwide recognition, Studio D Productions also came home with a title of Outstanding Ensemble for the group.

“We had about four weeks to prepare and rehearsed over two weekends.  You never know. You do the best that you can do and hope for the best. I know that we do a good job because we’ve won something every year. Our kids are very talented,” Flanders said.

With the talent also comes respect for their fellow contestants and performers, as well as opportunities to meet well-known names and celebrities within the theatrical world, according to Jason Brown.

“They have classes for the kids that they go to where they learn about things like music and dance and give advice on how to handle themselves in practice and rehearsal and auditions. It’s a jam-packed weekend full of information. Our kids were amazingly gracious to the other groups. They stood up and clapped for their fellow participants and everyone put on a great performance,” Brown said.

If any of the three Studio D performers – Faith, Hayden or Ben – are selected to visit New York City, they will have to pay their own way to make the trip, but lodging won’t be a problem. Lori Flanders has graciously agreed to provide a place for any of the trio to stay during the time of filming.

“I think our group has progressed over the years. We get better every year. I have also auditioned in the past and this was my fourth year at the event. The very first time I did, I actually got to go to New York City to film. The other years I was asked to do it again and I had to turn it down due to other conflicts,” Faith Flanders said. “This year I auditioned again and now we are waiting to find out in a couple of months whether or not they have cast any of us. I am hoping for it now that I’m older. There’s only so much you can do, though. No matter what happens, when you are a part of this Festival and Studio D, you are with a whole bunch of people whom you learn to love and increase your skills with each day.”

In past Festivals, Studio D has brought home titles ranging in categories from singing to dancing.

Studio D will present “Seussical Jr.” at the Griffin Opera House at the intersection of Solomon and Hill Streets from February 28  – March 2, 2014.

Camelot Theatre will hold a musical event “The Return,” based on a Beatles tribute performance, on February 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Griffin Auditorium. Ω

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