Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Granbury Theatre Academy stars shine at Atlanta Festival


Granbury Theatre Academy students recently earned honors at the Junior Theater Festival, billed as the world’s biggest and most renowned celebration of young people performing in musical theater.

Twenty-six GTA students attended the three-day event in Atlanta, Georgia, under the leadership of academy director Matt Beutner, choreographer Lena Moralez, and stage manager Whitney Shearon.

For the adjudication, GTA students performed a 15-minute cut of “Mary Poppins JR,” one of several productions from Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior collection.

The adjudication is done by leading theater professionals. They offer constructive criticism to encourage further learning and growth. Groups are rated in key areas of music, acting, dance and overall performance.

The troupe composed of students from Granbury and surrounding communities included Hannah Baker, Micah Chesney, Jacqueline Clifton, Kai Cook, Mia Currie, Lucas Edwards, Edyn Esquivel, Emily Farmer, Micah Griffith, Elliot Hayes, Shane Houston, Julia Huggins, Brylea Hyde, Anita Jenkins, Zander Kelley, Aubrey Landers, Clayton Lankford, Rachel Mastick, Lily McClendon, Cameron Moore, Zoe Moore, Shayla Nuttall, Trinity Seeley, Sandy Strittmatter, Aubrey Ward, and Natalie Ward.

Baker and Huggins were named All-Stars for their performances while Chesney was among just a handful of festival participants named as an Outstanding Performer. Huggins also received honors as student choreographer, while Currie and Strittmatter were recognized for their achievement as student directors.

The festival gives students an opportunity to attend workshops led by Broadway professionals and master teachers, audition for choreography DVDs, and get a sneak peek of new Broadway Junior titles soon to be released.


Beutner, Moralez, and Shearon had plenty of help chaperoning the teens, who ranged in age from 13-18. Granbury Theatre Company Board President Micky Shearon and Board Secretary Jeff Meador went on the trip, as did 23 parents, Beutner said.

A minor glitch occurred when the group’s flight to Atlanta was rerouted to Birmingham, which affected the group’s shuttle reservations. Beutner credited Whitney Shearon for quickly arranging the rental of eight vehicles from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

It all worked out, and the students had a great experience, the academy director said.

“That’s the best thing about the kids that we have, and kind of the academy in general. It really is a community,” Beutner stated. “The kids all like and support each other. It is not cliquey, you know what I mean? They don’t keep to themselves. They all hang out with each other. Everywhere we went, everybody was hanging out with everybody.”

A younger group of GTA students will attend JTF West in Sacramento, California, Feb. 17-19. That ensemble will perform a cut from “Frozen JR.”


“Mary Poppins JR” will be the academy’s summer production on stage at the Granbury Opera House July 21-30. Summer camp auditions and registration will be available later in the spring.

Registration is available for a spring production of “Jungle Book KIDS” for students ages 8-12. Students will rehearse all semester for three performances scheduled for May 5-7 on the Opera House mainstage.

Students ages 13-18 will perform William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” on May 6.

More information, including a spring class schedule for children, youth, and adults, is available at granburytheatreacademy.org.