The Junior Theatre Festival Australia (the largest celebration of young people and musical theatre in the Southern Hemisphere) joins forces with New York based musical composer, Daniel J. Mertzlufft — the creative force behind viral hit Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical.
Mertlufft composed the first TikTok musical adaptation “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical”, based on the song “Remy the Ratatouille” by Emily Jacobson, which became a rousing success among theatre buffs around the world. A livestream of the show in January, 2021 raised $1.9 million for the Actors Fund and featured international musical theatre heavy weights Tituss Burgess, Wayne Brady, André De Shields, Adam Lambert, Andrew Barth Feldman and Kevin Chamberlin. Mertzlufft’s success has seen him become a household name and featured on The Late Late Show with James Cordon.
Last week, TikTok announced that it has commissioned the video-app maker’s first original musical, called For You, Paige, Co-Produced by Mertzlufft, which will be available to livestream on the @TikTok account this Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. ET, performed at a theatre in New York City.
Junior Theatre Festival Australia will be Mertzlufft’s first trip Down Under. While he is in Australia, he will also be launching Dot and the Kangaroo JR. a new musical created in collaboration with Australian musical book writer Daniel Stoddart (producer of JTF Australia) based on the 1899 Australian children’s classic by Ethel Pedley. Lyricist, and TikTok collaborator Kate Leonard will also join Mertlufft and Stoddart at the Junior Theatre Festival Australia in Newcastle at the landmark Civic Theatre venue.
Young musical theatre students from all over Australia and New Zealand in attendance at JTF Australia will get the opportunity to meet Mertlufft, perform excerpts from musicals that they have performed in their school or academy, workshop a new musical, and participate in a live on-stage Q&A with the TikTok star and his fellow Dot and the Kangaroo JR. collaborators.
Whilst in the country, Mertzlufft will also work with up-and-coming young Australian musical theatre stars to record the original cast recording of Dot and the Kangaroo JR.
The Junior Theatre Festival Australia (JTF), which is sponsored by Music Theatre International and The City of Newcastle, will take place at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle, NSW on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th October, 2022. The major event attracts international guests and participants and offers students, directors, teachers and educators the opportunity to participate in performances, skills development workshops, professional development workshops, presentations of new musicals, celebrity talk-back sessions, an awards ceremony, and lots more!
Schools and drama academies who have presented a Broadway JR., Broadway KIDS or a musical from Music Theatre International Australasia’s One Act Edition catalogue are invited to register and attend, with places limited to only 24 schools or academies each year.
Full guest line-up announced soon.
ABOUT “FOR YOU, PAIGE”
The show’s story is inspired by real TikTok creators. It features original songs written by Mertzlufft, Julia Riew, Katherine Lynn-Rose, RJ Christian, Blake Rouse, Morgan Reilly, Alex Engleberg, Kate Leonard, and Gosz & Fotos, and with orchestrations by Macy Schmidt. The tunes include “Playing in My Key,” “Out of My Mouth” and “Beyond the Dome.”
In “For You, Paige” (a pun on TikTok’s For You page), teen music nerd Landon (played by Roman Banks) collaborates with his best friend, Paige (played by Sri Ramesh) on a TikTok song inspired by her favorite book series. Landon’s TikTok goes viral, thrusting him into the spotlight — and leaving Paige behind. When a producer offers Landon the opportunity to adapt the book series into a musical, Landon discovers that the glory of doing it all himself isn’t worth the stress and enlists the help of Paige (and the TikTok community) to turn the show into a success.
The cast of “For You, Paige” also features James Henry as Tyler, Krystina Alabado as Kaia and JJ Niemann as Jarek. Maria Goulamhoussen and Emily Maltby will co-direct the live performance of the show, with Emily and Katie Spelman choreographing.
Since January, Mertzlufft (pictured above) has been documenting the creative process behind “For You, Paige” on TikTok, providing a behind-the-scenes of how a musical goes from an idea to reality. As you would expect, the show features multiple references to TikTok trends and communities (such as Paige’s obsession with fictional YA series “Utopia,” which is a nod to #BookTok).
ABOUT THE JUNIOR THEATRE FESTIVAL AUSTRALIA
Alongside JTF Atlanta, JTF Sacramento, JTF Europe and JTF New Zealand, the Junior Theatre Festival Australia is part of a large network of JTF festivals worldwide.
Seen in the eyes of the global community, JTF Australia is produced by OzTheatrics and under the educational and artistic supervision of iTheatrics, sponsored by Music Theatre International Australasia, and Travel Gang. JTF Australia brings students, teachers and industry professionals together to celebrate outstanding student musical theatre productions.
Festival events include: adjudications, student workshops, professional development for teachers, the New Works Showcase, an awards ceremony and the largest collection of Aussie musical theatre lovers under one roof. Held annually, over the last weekend in October, in Newcastle, NSW, JTF Australia has become a must attend musical theatre event. It is a weekend of true musical theatre madness!
For more information, visit the JTF Australia website.