Riviera Ridge students at the Junior Theater Festival | Credit: Marcus Woolen

Bravo! A group of students from The Riviera Ridge School recently brought home top-honor awards after taking center stage at a national convention for musical theater.

The students traveled to Sacramento for the annual 2023 Junior Theatre Festival West in February. There, they had to perform 15 minutes of an MTI Broadway Junior musical, and the group’s staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. earned them a Freddie G Excellence in Ensemble Work award. Being that it was the school’s first year at the festival, it was a meaningful accomplishment for all of the students.

“Our whole group winning as an ensemble really meant something to me because it shows that as a group we were able to come together and be one,” said 7th-grader Naomi Boles about the win.

Boles is among those from Riviera Ridge who also received individual accolades recognizing their outstanding talent and hard work. At the event, she and her fellow 7th-grader Isabella Stoval were both named Junior Theater Festival All-Stars.

“It was definitely unexpected because I feel like everyone deserves that award, especially in their own ways,” Stoval said about finding out she was an All-Star. “But it really meant a lot ‘cause I think me and Naomi definitely tried our best.”

Also in the limelight is 7th-grader Tabitha Weller, who received a callback after her audition for a special project about promoting musical theater programs in schools. For her and other students, the festival has inspired them to further pursue their passions and keep on performing.

“I really connected with the community of theater. Everyone’s just so kind and welcoming,” Weller said about the experience. She’s even considering taking some acting classes outside of school.  “It just really made me want to continue my path in theater.”

The Junior Theater Festival West is a three-day annual convention that gives students in musical theater the opportunity to shine in the spotlight and find their voice with a weekend of workshops, performances, and showcases. This year, 38 groups from around the U.S. and South Korea came together for a weekend of acting, dancing, and singing, all while bonding over their shared love for the craft.

Next year, the show will go on as Riviera Ridge expects to attend the festival again and continue to make memories while celebrating musical theater.


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