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Theater headed to festival

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- More than a dozen area theater students are getting ready for a special trip to Atlanta this week.

For the third year in a row, the Social Circle Theater is taking a group of students to participate in the Junior Theater Festival.

Students who range in age from 7 to 17 from Conyers, Covington and Social Circle are representing the Social Circle Theater at this year's festival, which is held at the Cobb Galleria Center.

"This group is incredible to watch work," said Ricky Hall, director of the group and several other programs at the Social Circle Theater. "They're a family ... and enjoy each other's company so much. It's just the way theater goes."

At this year's festival, the group will perform a selection from "Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior," an adaptation of the original play.

Hall said the theater's youth, who perform at the Social Circle Theater throughout the year and attend theater festivals, wanted to do a production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" ever since the adult actors presented the full-length original play a few years ago.

Each year at the festival, event staff present adaptations of original plays that have been cut in content and length that is appropriate for junior actors. A couple of years ago at the JTF, they presented "Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior." Since then, the Social Circle youth group has been anxious for the chance to perform it.

"It's one of the most difficult junior scripts to produce," Hall said. "It is challenging for the creative staff and for the children, but sometimes that is exactly what they need to grow as actors."

During a summer camp in July at the Social Circle Theater, a group of a couple dozen students created sets, costumes and a performance of the adaptation that they expect to perform at this year's festival. They also have presented a shortened performance for a dinner theater fundraiser in November and held rehearsals in anticipation of the festival.

"They are getting a head start this year," Hall said. "They feel really comfortable and prepared."

He said at the group's first festival appearance, the students took home best performance/overall score, and at the second festival, a student won best vocal award and he took best director.

However, taking the weekend trip to Atlanta isn't just for the chance to take home some acting awards.

"It's really more about learning than about (winning)," he said. "At the end of the day, it's just a celebration of theater."

After performances, judges will provide feedback on each group's stage presence, audience engagement, vocals, choreography and other theater aspects.

The students also will showcase their costumes and set models and attend workshops during which Broadway professionals will present information about costumes, lighting, script analysis and other subjects.

The festival will end with an awards ceremony and a trip to the Fabulous Fox Theatre to see a touring group perform "Annie," which features local actors, including 11-year-old Kassie Livingston, a sixth-grader at Indian Creek Middle School in Covington.

Youth interested in getting involved with the Social Circle Theater can call Hall at 770-464-2269 or visit www.socialcircletheater.com.