Memorial students headed for the Junior Theatre Festival


Photo Provided

The cast of Finale after one of their rehearsals.

Kelsi Seltenreich, Staff Writer

Every year, teens from across the nation prepare to compete at the Junior Theatre Festival (JTF). Edmond Memorial High School students Lilly Boone, Mia Lashley and Ella Latham are all juniors that were selected to be in the student-led acting group, Finale, that will be competing at JTF.

Finale’s cast is made up of students from all over the OKC and metro area with a choreographer from Texas.

The group will be taking a 15 minute cut of the musical “Children of Eden Jr.” to Sacramento, Calif. to compete at JTF. This will be Lashley’s sixth year competing at JTF and the first time for Boone and Latham.

“I’m excited to go to the festival. I’ve heard a lot about it from everyone, but I cannot wait to experience it. I’m looking forward to learning a lot during the day,” Latham said. “I think it’s going to be a great experience.”

JTF lasts three days, beginning on Feb. 18, 2022, and the cast that makes up Finale has been working hard to prepare for the approaching date.

“The rehearsal process has been great. We usually rehearse once a week for three to four hours, and over break our choreographer flew in from Texas, and we had a couple all day rehearsals with her,” Boone said. “Rehearsals are super efficient, and we got through the whole cut pretty quickly.”

The way the show “Children of Eden Jr.” is designed also adds to the experience.

“The rehearsal process is unique in that the show is entirely ensemble driven and student led; every person is onstage the whole time creating the sets and characters, and every person is equally important,” Lashley said.

Lashley is part of the creative team as well as a soloist. Latham plays Eve, and Boone plays a snake. They are three out of a cast of 19 students.

“My favorite memory from rehearsals has been learning the choreography for one of the songs, ‘In Pursuit of Excellence,’” Latham said. “What I love about the song is how the style is so different from the rest of the show. It’s very jazzy vocally, and our choreographer used a lot of jazz inspired movement in the number, which I love.”

The cut is a mixture of singing, acting and dancing, and while it took time and work for the cast to learn, Boone, Lashley and Latham all agree that it has come together beautifully.

Finale is very special because it is the first ever all student-led group to compete at JTF. It is directed by two students from Deer Creek, choreographed by a student and also a collaboration between students in the cast. It is a show not only performed by students, but created by students.

Boone, Lashley and Latham have loved the experience, and look forward to performing at JTF next month.

“I want to say just how proud I am of our directors and cast because everyone works so hard to make this cut the best it can be,” Boone said. “It’s so incredible to work with such a talented group of people who I am so grateful to be able to call my Finale family.”

Contact Kelsi Seltenreich at [email protected]