Youth Sing and Dance to Educate About Human Rights and Children's Rights

Top Quote Children's rights get a new view in "Annie Jr." presented by International Youth Theater in partnership with Youth for Human Rights Florida. End Quote
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (1888PressRelease) July 30, 2009 - A stage filled with youth, from ages 2 years of age to 17, will not only sing and dance their hearts out for their audience, but they will also entertain them with skits that educate their audience about human rights, in a one-of-a-kind Broadway production of “Annie Jr.”. A night of fun will also enlighten the audience aware of how easy children’s rights can be violated. The show takes place on Saturday, August 8, at 6:00 p.m. at the Francis Wilson Playhouse Theater.

    Presented by International Youth Theater, “Annie Jr.” is based on the winner of seven Tony Awards Broadway show, “Little Orphan Annie”. But the August 8th production is above the ordinary as it is brought about by youth who love both the art of theater and the education of human rights and the evening will intertwine them both. A play written for children filled with funny lines, singing and dancing, it still carries a message of how children’s human rights can be so easily violated.

    Producer Doria Kintzel chose “Annie Jr.” to entertain and to enlighten. When most people think of human rights violations, they think of refugees in war-torn countries or political prisoners. But children can have their human rights violated in many ways. For example, verbal, mental and physical abuse is a violation of Human Right #5 No Torture. And when children’s rights are violated it is in contradiction to Human Right #30 No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights. And of course, the production is a symbol of Human Right #19 Freedom of Expression; a freedom children of all ages should be able to experience.

    International Youth Theater, located in Clearwater, Florida, has the mission assisting the development of young artist while enlightening them on their abilities and responsibilities to help improve human rights around the world. It is working with Youth for Human Rights Florida, which has the goal of educating people on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both in and out of the classroom.

    “Outside the classroom educating someone about a human right has unlimited possibilities,” says Dustin McGahee, President of Youth for Human Rights Florida. “Just recently we have sponsored a refugee camp educating others on Human Right # 3 ‘The Right to Life’ and entertained the audience during intermission of a World Pop concert to educate about ‘Freedom of Expression’. But “Annie Jr.” as it highlights children’s rights in a new wave of art in the combining of education of people’s rights and the arts.”

    The director, Sky Kintzel, at age 14 is directing his second theatrical production, after debuting his career last year with “Into the Woods, Jr.”. Acting in Broadway plays since he was nine, Sky has played a variety of roles. He says his goals lie in the area of being an actor, but he wants to direct to get experience on the “other end” of being the actor. “I like working with the kids,” says Sky. “Kids are very talented and ‘raw’. They have opinions but they are more accepting then adults to new ideas.”

    But besides the director, all the actors and actresses are new to Broadway, and this is a new experience for them all.

    The main character, Annie, is played by Tabs Marshall, age 11. She has been singing her whole life, but she is very excited about the show, as this is her first Broadway stage production. Tabs is also interested in human rights and thinks there should be a “Right to Laugh”. Although this is not an official human right, she has a good point when she makes you look at how would life be if you weren’t allowed to laugh?

    Gabby Durand, who plays Miss Hannigan, is the oldest actress on stage at only 17. Gabby’s singing is so strong and confident it is hard to believe that she only started singing Broadway songs only one year ago.

    Wearing a lot of pink clothes is not something Shir Ezra, age 10, does not do to define her personality, and that is exactly why she likes playing the character “Star-to-be”, a personality much different than Shir’s real life.

    Arianna Lorenzini, age 11, plays the funny dogcatcher but also has the responsibility as the Human Rights Ambassador for the production. Well educated in Human Rights, Arianna realized at a young age the importance of these rights. She feels people who do not have their human rights are not respected, and she wants to see all people respected.

    Don’t be surprised if you see some crazy excitement when Joshua Marshall, age 15, struts onto the stage as the character of “Rooster”. Josh has been tap dancing since the age of three, but he is also trained in ballroom dancing, swing, pop, lock, and break dancing. Mixed together he will have a combination of moves that will excite and surprise the audience.

    Twelve year old, Connor Hillman, who does a great impersonation of the older man says he feels that Human Right #19, Freedom of Expression, covers many areas such as the arts and free speech. “I like to be able to say what is on my mind,” says Connor. “That is probably why I like human rights.”

    Not all the talent is on the stage during the production. Multi-talented Martina Zerbo, age 12, is the choreographer. Martina has danced all her life and been on stage since she was only 5 years old, but this is her first time working as a choreographer. Martina states, “My idea for the dances is simple but exciting. I keep it simple for the young kids to learn and exciting enough for the audience.”

    Tickets for the show are only $40, with VIP seating available upon request. You can purchase tickets by going online at (www dot internationalyouththeater dot com) The August 8 performance is a one-time only benefit show for Youth for Human Rights of Florida.

    The Francis Wilson Playhouse Theater is located at 302 Seminole Street, Clearwater, Florida 33755, (going north on Fort Harrison Street turn west just one traffic light north of Drew Street).

    For more information contact: International Youth Theater at 727-523-8889.

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