WALNUT CREEK -- The Youth Theatre Company's Junior Theatre group recently returned from the Disney Jr. Theatre Festival in Atlanta with the coveted Excellence in Acting Award, as well as the Best Choreographer award for Nicole McGann in the slam competition.

A program of the City of Walnut Creek's Civic Arts Education, YTC sent the cast of "Pirates of Penzance" to perform a 15-minute selection for the judges at the Jan. 18-20 festival. The young perfortmers range in age from 10 to 14.

McGann won Best Choreographer honors for her dance moves in "Hard Knock Life" during the slam competition.

"The slam competition takes one director, one musical director, one choreographer and a group of kids gives them a song and one hour to complete a performance," YTC producer Rachel Pergamit said. "The instructors and kids can be from any group across the country. It's pretty intense."

The festival included 82 groups representing 23 states. Approximately, 3,500 students, teachers and Broadway professionals attended the event, first held in 2003.

Students also attended a variety of theater-related workshops while in Atlanta, Pergamit added.

-- Sally Hogarty, Correspondent

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