Qns. Students Get Chance To Perform On Broadway
Bring Talents To Professional Stage
Students from J.H.S. 185 in Flushing and M.S. 72 in Jamaica joined a select number of other city public school students in performing on a Broadway stage during the Shubert Foundation/ MTI Broadway Jr. Student Celebration last Monday, June 6, at the Majestic Theatre.
Daniel Radcliffe, star of the re vival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the Harry Potter film series, served as master of ceremonies. Leaders from the theatre and educa tion joining in the applause for the students included Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott; Paul King, executive director of the city Department of Ed ucation’s (DOE) Office of Arts and Special Projects; Robert E. Wankel, co CEO and president of the Shubert Organization; Philip J. Smith, chair man of the Shubert Foundation; Fred die Gershon, chairman and CEO of Music Theatre International; Drew Cohen, president of Music Theatre International; musical theatre author and iTheatrics founding chairman Timothy Allen McDonald, and Steve Tennen, executive director of ArtsConnection.
The special Broadway perform ance was the year end culminating celebration of the Shubert Founda tion/MTI Broadway Jr. Program, a musical theatre mentorship program which builds self sustaining theatre programs in public schools with lim ited arts programming, and is spon sored by The Shubert Foundation, DOE and Music Theatre Interna tional (MTI). The event was pro duced by New York City’s educational musical theatre consult ing firm iTheatrics. Use of The Ma jestic Theatre was provided by The Shubert Organization.
Each school group performed a song from their production of a stu dent version of a classic musical, in cluding junior versions of Annie, Once on this Island, Seussical, Dis ney’s Aladdin and Guys and Dolls.
The Edward Bleeker J.H.S. 185 students performed “Why We Tell the Story” from Once on this Island Jr.; the school is finishing its first year of the program. The M.S. 72 Catherine and Count Basie students performed “Prince Ali” from Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; they have “graduated’ from the program and now serve as inspiration for other students.
The Shubert Foundation/MTI Broadway Jr.. Program aims to en gage as many students as possible in all aspects and areas of the arts. In the first year of the program, teach ers and students are guided step by step through the process of producing a first ever musical in their schools.
In the second year, teachers and students continue to receive support and encouragement on their second musical, but take ownership over their productions. In the third year schools present a musical independ ently, and now serve as inspiration for other schools involved in earlier cycles of the program.
The program was founded in the 2005 2006 school year. So far, 29 schools have participated in the pro gram, 21 schools were involved in the 2010 11 cycle,including four new schools involved in the first year of the program, three schools involved in the second year of the program, and 14 “graduated” schools having acted as inspiration for the schools in volved in the previous cycles of the program.
Any New York City middle and intermediate public school without an existing musical theatre program may apply for this grant. Each selected school must have the agreement and support of its respective principal, as sistant principal, custodian and a team of three teachers.
Last fall, four public schools without an existing musical theatre program were selected. Many of these students had not ever seen a musical, much less participated in one. Each school presented a selec tion from its musical on Broadway and will also perform or has already performed the full musical in its com munity.
Over this year, schoolteachers from the first and second year schools attended three professional development workshops which took them step by step through the process of putting on a show in their community and were led by teaching artists from iTheatrics. The teachers went back to their schools, selected their musical, held auditions and cast the show.
Later in the year each first year school cast participated in an in school musical workshop with iThe atrics teaching artists. They were guided through the entire process by a production advisor provided by a partnering organization, ArtsConnec tion, who supported them in their school throughout the production process.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the sixth year of this exciting program, which gives thousands of New York City public school students their first taste of musical theatre and the chance to perform on a Broadway stage at the illustrious Majestic The atre,” said Michael I. Sovern, presi dent of the Shubert Foundation. “The Shubert Foundation’s involvement, since the program’s 2005 inception, has been a pivotal component of our efforts to support increased arts edu cation initiatives throughout New York City public schools.”
“Watching the students discover the joys of live theatre, while learn ing what it takes to put on a show, has been a rewarding experience and one that we hope will continue to impact their lives for years to come,” added Smith.
“As I have said in the past, arts education is essential to creating well rounded students and we are thrilled that for the past six years, the Broadway Junior Program has given our students an opportunity to expe rience and learn about the ‘Great White Way’ in their schools,” said Walcott. “Broadway is such a quin tessential part of New York City, and we are grateful that this program makes Broadway musicals accessible to students and their families.”
“I am gratified that in six years we have managed to introduce art, music, theatre, dance and cross cur ricular activities to 4,500 New York City students as well as the student bodies of their schools. This in turn has introduced specialized teaching skills for these activities to 225 New York City school teachers. It has served to enhance lives and changed school cultures in a positive fashion for the students, the teachers and their communities,” said Gershon.
“We were so moved by the initia tive and commitment that we saw in these educators during our profes sional development workshops with them. It has been even more inspir ing to see them build on these skills and witness how their resulting pro ductions have been a victory for their students, school and greater commu nity,” said McDonald. “It is wonder ful to have Daniel Radcliffe and so many cultural and educational organ izations come together to celebrate and encourage these students and teachers as they build sustainable arts programs in public schools.”
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