Paulini to lead Junior Theatre Festival’s original cast recording

The Junior Theatre Festival, Australia’s largest celebration of young people and musical theatre to take place October 28 and 29 in Newcastle

Special Guests include Daniel Mertzlufft, Paulini and Sofia Nolan who will all work with students to record an original cast recording for the brand new Broadway Junior musical Dot and the Kangaroo JR.

Music Theatre International announced the line-up for this month’s annual Junior Theatre Festival Australia (JTF Australia). JTF Australia is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest festival celebrating young people and the transformative power of musical theatre. Produced by OzTheatrics and under the educational and artistic supervision of iTheatrics and sponsored by Music Theatre International Australasia, JTF Australia brings students, teachers and industry professionals together to celebrate outstanding student musical theatre productions.

Composer Daniel J. Mertzlufft (Ratatouille, The Tik Tok Musical) will be on hand to debut a portion of Dot and the Kangaroo JR. – a Broadway Junior musical based on the beloved Australian children’s book.Mertzlufft, along with his collaborators book writer Daniel Stoddart and lyricist Kate Leonard will also offer an interactive presentation about the adaptation and development process of their new musical. JTF Australia newcomer PAULINI will also delight audiences with a magical performance live on stage for all attendees on Oct. 29. Mertzlufft, Leonard, PAULINI, along with Broadway JR. alumni Sofia Nolan will talk candidly about their experiences as professionals during the Festival’s onstage “Pathways” Q&A session, and Mertzlufft and PAULINI will also present a brand-new musical number from Dot and the Kangaroo JR.

The New Works Showcase event features special student performances of new Broadway Junior musicals, Disney’s Finding Nemo JR., Godspell JR. and Dot and the Kangaroo JR.  Selected JTF Australia students will also take part in very special pilot performances of two new musicals, Beetlejuice JR. and 9 to 5 JR., that are in development for elementary and middle school performers.

Australian theatre personalities David Rogers-Smith (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera), Nina Meehan (Founding Director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, CA), Olivia Charalambous (Puffs, Spring Awakening), along with iTheatrics’ Marty Johnson, MTI’s Chief Operating Officer John Prignano, will join Mertzlufft as guest adjudicators at the first in-person JTF Australia event since Covid lock-downs. In the spirit of celebration and not competition, each group at the festival will perform a selection from a musical for a panel of theatre professionals and will receive feedback about their creativity, engagement in the performance, understanding of the material and connection to the lyrics and movement.

“The growth and evolution of Broadway Junior here in Australia and New Zealand has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career. I look forward to introducing Dot and the Kangaroo JR. and the other fantastic Broadway Junior musicals to our global theatre community,” says the Managing Director of Musical Theatre International Australasia, Stuart Hendricks.

The first Junior Theatre Festival was founded in the USA in 2003 with Australia’s first Festival held in 2016.

“The 2022 Junior Theatre Festival Australia is our seventh festival and our fifth event in-person. From the beginning we have worked with New York based iTheatrics to make sure this event shines a spotlight on the importance of young people having access to quality musical theatre programs,” said co-producer Daniel Stoddart.

“Our JTF family continues to grow and inspire us. At the Festival and back in their communities, these teachers and students encourage each other to find more and more creative ways to get their musicals on stage and to build stronger programs,” shared co-producer Shane Bransdon.

“The Junior Theatre Festival’s core objective has always been to celebrate and support young people and their teachers, who make the world a better place one musical at a time,” stated iTheatrics and Junior Theatre Group CEO Timothy Allen McDonald.

Drew Cohen, President and CEO of Music Theatre International added, “MTI created Broadway Junior musicals in 1996, and over the past 25+ years, there have been thousands of educators, performers and audience members who have experienced the joy of these shows. We are thrilled to celebrate and offer a number of brand-new musicals to our friends in Australia and around the world.”

This year’s title sponsors are Music Theatre International Australasia (MTIA), City of Newcastle and Travel Gang.

Junior Theatre Festival Australia
Civic Theatre Newcastle, NSW
October 28 & 29, 2022
For further information, please visit

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