Year 11 student Matthew Edgar had an exciting summer, representing New Zealand at the 15th annual Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
Along with two students from Nelson Girls College, Tiana Simpson and Sophie McCarlie, Matthew joined forty other young New Zealanders to perform as part of the festival. Despite never meeting as a group before, and having limited time for rehearsal, the team managed to win the prestigious ‘Excellence in Music Award’ for their performances of musical items taken from Mary Poppins Junior.
Matthew said that the team did not get much time to get their act together. “We had one week rehearsing in New York because we were from all different parts of New Zealand. We hadn’t been able to get together before that.”
According to Matthew, the festival featured over 200 teams from all over the world, including Australia, China and Europe.
Apart from the experience of performing on the world stage, Matthew said the festival gave the young performers an opportunity to partake in workshops from experienced Broadway professionals. “I just learned some really good skills. The training, rehearsing and performing was awesome. We got some workshops while we were in New York from different people. It was a good learning experience. We had some people from (the Broadway musicals) Hamilton and Moulin Rouge come teach us,” he said.
Matthew also found it inspiring to be in arguably the City most synonymous with musical theatre, New York, and relished the opportunity to see some of his favourite shows on Broadway. “Some real highlights for me were seeing the shows. I saw the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, Moulin Rouge, Frozen and Chicago. It was awesome to be able to watch.”
Having only done musical theatre for four years, Matthew is keen to keep looking for opportunities to improve his talents. “I’m definitely trying to pursue it further and further. I’m carrying it on this year by doing drama, dance and music as my subjects, and I want to take part in school shows,” he said.
By Duncan McKinlay