The International Thespian Festival (ITF) is back, live and in person, for 2022! ITF went virtual for a couple years during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now everyone we talk with is PUMPED to be back together for a week of the best of high-school theatre. All right in the heartland at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana! We hope you’ve made your plans and will be there with us.

Broadway in Bloomington: Day 1

ITF opens strong with two Broadway stars on stage on the first day! Storm Lever, who’s currently playing Anne Boleyn in SIX: The Musical (written by Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss), will be the festival keynote speaker. With a general topic of #BetterTogether, we think she’ll talk the power of telling the often-untold stories as she inspires all of us for the week ahead.

young Black woman in yellow shirt against pink background

Storm Lever is the 2022 ITF keynote speaker. She’s currently in “SIX: The Musical” National Tour.

For example, in a recent recorded interview about SIX: The Musical she reminded listeners that the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives (which SIX is based on) is most often told from the King’s male point of view. The King changed the rules of a religion (!!!) in order to divorce his first wife, and then found other “creative” ways to get rid of some of his other wives. Storm said, “You get to hear from these women. These are all female-identifying voices on stage. And the team [behind the production] is full of incredibly strong, wonderful people who are interested in lifting up those female voices and stories.”

She’ll likely remind everyone of the power of positive thoughts. She said in that same interview, “Historically these six queens were from specific races. In the show they purposely do not. It’s a message that anyone is worthy of queendom. Anyone can be royal. It’s about how you carry yourself, how you see yourself, and how you treat your other queens.”

Other Broadway Stars the Rest of the Week

Michael James Scott who plays the Genie in Broadway’s Aladdin will emcee the opening ceremonies as well as the closing event, the Thespy Showcase. He is passionate about the power of theatre in our schools and made a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, recently to work with a high school troupe performing Disney’s Aladdin, JR. If you caught last year’s virtual ITF then you know it’s going to be a blast!

White man in black shirt with black backgroundPlus, Broadway veteran and former dance captain for Kinky Boots, Paul Canaan, is teaching three different dance workshops at ITF. If the thought of walking in 5-inch spike heels sounds daunting, well, Paul has done flips in them! We cannot wait for his workshops (heels not required). 

Patty Craft is content manager for and opts for hiking boots over 5-inch heels every time. 

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