Broadway Junior Student of the Month: February 2017

Broadway Junior Student of the Month: February 2017

For the last several months we have honored MTI’s Broadway Junior Student of the Month.

These students have been selected out of hundreds of outstanding applicants and display the exemplary qualities of dedication, passion, leadership and spirit. Their love of Broadway Junior and desire for learning and growing through musical theatre is palpable and we are proud to honor these Broadway Junior Stars.

Our Broadway Junior Student of the Month for February 2017 are three exceptional students from The SEED Falcon Theatre in Washington D.C. Introducing Chris Smith, Dakoda DaCosta and Emmanuel Mack. 

What Broadway Junior Means To Me - By Chris Smith

Growing up, I knew that I was not a normal kid; in fact, I hated being a normal kid. The way I found that I could express my personality was through performing and acting. I fell in love with performing in front of people, it made me into the young actor I am today.  With Broadway Junior, I was able to take my interest in performing to a new level and challenge my performance abilities by experiencing scripts and shows I was not familiar with but easily became accustomed to. I learned a lot about Broadway level performing that I will carry on with me in the future as an actor and as a person. What Broadway Junior means to me is an opportunity for children to showcase shows that not only adults can perform. I believe Broadway Junior is a chance for kids to gain high level experience while performing shows that they’ve seen, now, as movies most of their lives. I strongly feel that Broadway Junior teaches children the importance of hard work, team work and trying new things that they’ve never tried before while helping them strengthen their abilities to sing, act, and dance together. I feel that Broadway Junior leaves an imprint on any child that participates in the program and teaches them more about who they are and how they fit in to the big picture of performing as an ensemble.

Nominating Essay - By Dr. Lamar Bagley, Ed.D.

I would like to nominate Chris Smith as Student of the Month because since joining The Falcon Theatre in the role of Zazu from The Lion King JR. in the Fall 2015, I have witness Chris mature into a perceptive and sharp individual who is able to navigate through the artistic and theatrical process with finesse, patience, determination, and an eagerness to learn and grow. So much so, when the opportunity presented itself, Chris took on the roles of both Zazu and Timon in the same production. While at the 2016 Junior Theater Festival, Chris took every opportunity to network with adjudicators, meet other student-artists; and in all of these experiences he exchanged information so that he could continue the conversation about how to grow as an actor, when he returned home. Additionally, Chris has stopped by my office nearly every day to get advice on acting, auditions, and monologue selection; and most recently, he has informed me about the auditions he has registered for and how he had expressed interest to a local professional theater company about summer employment opportunities at their summer camp. As Chris put it, he could not think of a better way to spend the summer, than to work at a theater camp as a Junior Counselor and to learn more about acting and the theater world from working professionals in the business.

Chris is most definitely MTI's Broadway Junior Student of the Month because he demonstrates the tenacity, grit, determination, dedication, and commitment to the artistic process and the eagerness to grow, learn, and share with the world. His experience at JTF, has transformed his life and his understanding of musical theater and theater as a whole. He has established a sense of confidence and self-discipline that is evident now in the rehearsal process. The Broadway Junior Collection, to me, is all about inspiring student-artists to grow and to share their talents with the world. Chris does this both on and off the stage... much thanks to the Lion King Experience and JTF.

What Broadway Junior Means To Me - By Dakoda DaCosta

Broadway Junior to me means a new experience. Every time I have auditioned for the school musical, I knew, if I was cast, I would be part of an amazing experience that would definitely be different from the year before; I would get to travel to Atlanta for the Junior Theater Festival; and I would get to add to my student profile that I participated in a school musical. When I first got into doing musical theater, I really didn’t know any of the songs or the shows or why some of the music sounded the way it did. But after my first year attending JTF, I was exposed to different types of songs and musicals and saw how people of all ages can present those certain numbers from a Broadway show -- half of them I never heard of. But that is the best part about Broadway Junior, it is a great opportunity for exposure and a great opportunity to learn something new. Working on shows like Lion King JR., Hairspray JR. and Annie JR. make being apart of the experience a new journey into a world where you can be yourself and do things the way you want to do it. Broadway Junior allowed someone new to musical theater to explore and take risks and to be myself. The scripts are easy to memorize, the music is easy to learn… but it does challenge students to be better and grow as artists. The worse part is when the production is over and you have to wait for another year of JTF. You leave your friends, your coaches and the extraordinary atmosphere that Broadway Junior presents to you. “Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart”. This is exactly what Broadway Junior develops through any experience. 

Nominating Essay - By Dr. Lamar Bagley, Ed.D.

Dakoda DaCosta has really taken ownership over his role as Actors' Deputy for our production of The Lion King JR. and our group that traveled to the 2016 Junior Theater Festival. In his roles as Scar, Actor's Deputy, and Assistant Student Director, Dakoda has served as a role model to our younger male student-artists and his leadership and commitment to ensuring that each and every cast member strives for excellence is evident. I have witnessed Dakoda go from being a shy individual to being an outspoken young man who not only commands the stage, but encourages his peers to follow his direction and lead in a respectful, compassionate, and diplomatic way. Over the past month, Dakoda has rallied the cast together to create a family-like atmosphere and environment where synergy is of the utmost importance on and off the stage. Through theater games, mirror exercises, leading warm-ups, and giving the cast pep talks, Dakoda has created an ensemble that models professionalism, spirit, compassion, and respect for one another. In fact, the cast of The Lion King JR. earned Excellence in Ensemble Work at the 2016 Junior Theater Festival. This accomplishment has much to do with the work that Dakoda did throughout our rehearsal process. Our program believes in empowering student leaders so that they can make use of 21st century skills and Dakoda tackled this challenge wholeheartedly; and in turn has grown as an individual in both his performance and his leadership!

What Broadway Junior Means To Me - By Emmanuel Mack​

Broadway Junior to me, means opportunity, the perfect opportunity for anyone with a passion for acting, singing, or dancing. As a participant and leader of theatre, in both acting and stage management, I have obtained a huge love and respect for musical theatre and I believe broadway junior provides that feeling for children across the world. Broadway Junior to me, helps children to find their dreams, and even discover themselves and what they’re truly passionate about along the way. Broadway Junior, in my opinion, is definitely a necessity for the young artists, because it provides a sense of inspiration and mentorship; leading young actors to set goals on becoming the best they can be in the creative and performing arts. Through Broadway Junior I have been able to learn more about a particular scene or show because of the notes that are provided in the scripts; as a stage manager, I have used the show kit to better understand technical needs for the show, run cues, and get ideas of set design. The best part about the scripts is that I was able to use some of what I learned in my academic classes. Things I had never thought about, I was able to connect two ideas using theater terms and concepts. Broadway Junior, to me, provides the opportunity for students to show drive, ambition, and grit just like Broadway actors do everyday; and most of it is fun! 

Nominating Essay - By Dr. Lamar Bagley, Ed.D.

Emmanuel plays the role of Mufasa in The Lion King JR. and by virtue of this role, his status as a senior, and his seniority within our theater program, Emmanuel has served as Co-Actors' Deputy and also Production Manager of our production of The Lion King JR. I believe he is worthy of Broadway Junior Student of the Month because he has tackled several roles and responsibilities with finesse. Emmanuel embodies the true essence of a musical theater kid. He loves to sing, act, and dance; but he also loves to direct, stage manage, and run the technical aspects of a production. In all areas, Emmanuel is AWESOME! This past month he received, for the second time, the Technical Theater All-Star Award at the 2016 Junior Theater Festival and also received accolades from adjudicators for his performance as Mufasa at JTF. During our production, not only did Emmanuel play the role of Mufasa, but once Mufasa died, he helped out backstage, still sang vocals, helped with scene changes, and served as an additional stage manager to assist with the younger student-artists that were backstage. What marveled me most was his ability to become a big brother to the younger male student-artists. This guidance assisted our production in not only encourage young men to audition for our production, but to stick with the process. In our school community where there are not many musical theater males... Emmanuel has led the way to encourage our young men to be a part of the arts experience. Most recently, Emmanuel led a discussion at our school on his experience in The Lion King and at JTF and he spoke candidly about jumping over your fears and to not think that musical theater is only for girls. This conversation sparked a 15 minute discussion on men in the arts and how he, too, still runs track and helped to manage the soccer team, all while being a part of the theater program. Since that time, he has inspired many male students to inquire about what productions are coming up next. In turn, he has built a legacy that will last forever, and has paved the way for many to follow in his footsteps in performance and technical theater.