Arts & Culture

ACE Students Win Big at National Music Theater Festival

photo of ACE students with Excellence in Ensemble Work Award at Junior Theater Festival
Academy for Creative Excellence (ACE) students won one of 15 Excellence in Ensemble Work awards presented at the Junior Theater Festival held Jan. 13-15, in Atlanta. In addition to a group win, four ACE students received individual honors.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2017) — ­­Youth studying musical theater at the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre's Academy for Creative Excellence (ACE) recently earned several accolades at a national festival. The program won one of 15 Excellence in Ensemble Work awards presented at the Junior Theater Festival held Jan. 13-15, in Atlanta. In addition to a group win, four ACE students received individual honors.

Produced by iTheatrics, the Junior Theater Festival is the biggest festival dedicated to young people and musical theater. This year, the festival brought together Broadway professionals, teachers and over 5,800 students for a weekend of workshops, professional development, and celebrating student accomplishments in musical theater.

In addition to bringing home a trophy for Excellence in Ensemble Work, several ACE students received individual achievements. Kaity Simpkins and Owen Scott were recognized as All-Stars, and performed in a dance number at the closing awards ceremony in front of an audience of over 6,000. Kaity, a student at West Jessamine High School, performed to the song "I Like to Move It" from the musical "Madagascar JR." Owen, a student at SCAPA (School for Creative and Performing Arts) at Lafayette High School in Lexington, performed "I Won't Grow Up" from Disney's "Peter Pan JR."

Two more students from the ensemble were chosen to participate in the Broadway JR Slam, one of the most anticipated events of the festival. Christian Hall, a student at Southern Middle School, and Jenna Moseley, a student at Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, had just one hour to rehearse a song and dance for presentation on the main stage. The pair performed to the title song from "Fame JR."

ACE was founded in 2009 as a preparatory performing arts program for school-aged students in Lexington and surrounding communities. For students wishing to prepare for potential performing arts career paths, ACE provides incremental, fundamental training in acting, dance and music. The program offers classes in individual and group vocal training, acting tools, ballet, tap and jazz, hip-hop, triple threat, and a variety of audition and training workshops. ACE instructors are directors, vocal coaches and choreographers who are actively engaged in the arts on a local, national and international scale. 

ACE is an outreach program of the critically acclaimed UK Opera Theatre program housed at UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue