In February, the best of middle and high school musical theater performers gathered in California for the Musical Theatre Competitions of America.
Among those competing were 45 students from Charlotte’s Team Broadway, which took top honors for the second year in a row.
The young performers won 40 trophies in categories including solos, duets and the biggest and most noteworthy award: the Sweepstakes Trophy. Team Broadway won for both middle school and high school divisions.
The Sweepstakes award goes to the group who received the highest average score from its top scoring entries in three categories, one of which must be in Revue or Ensemble.
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Team Broadway is a performance-based musical theater training program that takes place during the school year. Last year, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center donated space; the troupe currently is based at Providence Day School.
Team Broadway is a program offered by Teen City Stage, founded by Lori Anne Sword, the artistic director. Sword has experience as a performer, theater educator and audition coach.
The idea for Teen City Stage goes back to a performance of “Once On This Island” at the McGlohon Theater in 2013. Sword’s goal was to bring together the area’s most talented youths to work together in a theatrical production.
“Island” was a huge success, and Sword decided to create a musical theater production company comprising enormously talented and dedicated students.
In addition to Team Broadway, Teen City Stage also hosts a summer program. This summer, Teen City Stage will put on a production of “Aida.”
Teen City Stage has produced four musical revues and “A Chorus Line” and “Children of Eden,” as well as participating in competitions.
A large part of Teen City’s success is due to its choreographer, Linda Booth. She also came from a strong performance background, having choreographed more than 200 shows in her career.
“We have different strengths, so it’s a good balance,” Sword said.
The two felt they were recognized at the Musical Theatre Competitions of America by the many awards won by Team Broadway.
“It was affirming to go to California,” Booth said. “The judges told us we were in the right place at the right time.”
Sword said Team Broadway receives many requests to perform at school and corporate events. It’s no surprise that they are in demand. These are young performers who bring professionalism and passion to their work. In addition to their work with Teen City Stage, many of them can be found in school and community productions. Some of them have booked professional gigs.
The programs are tuition-based, though Teen City Stage is a nonprofit and offers scholarships to those who need assistance.
Sword said the teens involved in Teen City Stage learn valuable life skills in addition to improving their singing, dancing and acting.
“It’s about being able to be a part of something that has many moving pieces,” she said. “It’s about collaboration, not about who has the lead.
“I’m passionate about teaching and feel like it’s my calling to help kids get to the next level.”
Allison Futterman is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Allison? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.