September 12, 2007

Nurturing the Theater Lovers of Tomorrow

P.S. 212, also known as Midtown West, is an elementary school that sits right on the edge of the Broadway theater district and the theater community has adopted it as its own. Some showbiz folks send their kids there. Others attend the school shows. And a few years ago when the first grade teachers, both big theater lovers, built an entire curriculum around putting on a play, Stephen Sondheim came in and gave the six-year olds a master class. I'm willing to bet those kids are going to grow up to be theater lovers.

Of course, only a few children are lucky enough to go to a school within walking distance of Times Square and that's why I was so delighted when The League of American Theatres and Producers announced the recipients of its 12th annual National Education Grants this week. Each year, the League gives $5,000 each to 10 regional presenters of touring Broadway shows across the U.S. to support programs that will get youngsters in their areas involved with theater. The kids get instruction in some aspect of putting on a show and they also get to see a touring production.

The winners this year include:
• a "Broadway Boot Camp" in Greenville, S.C. that will provide dance, music and theater classes for 50 kids recruited largely from nearby urban high schools and it will also treat them to a performance of My Fair Lady when its national touring company stops at the local performing arts center

•a behind the scenes technical training workshop for 40 youngsters in Indianapolis who will also catch a My Fair Lady performance when the show hits their town

•a course in Tempe, Arizona that will teach kids how complex social issues can be transformed into drama for the stage and then show them how well it can be done by taking them to a performance of the touring production of Twelve Angry Men.

Sure it's a self-interested investment. But who cares. Youngsters who might never have seen a professionally mounted play or a musical are going to be exposed to the magic of live theater. And I'm willing to bet that these kids will grow up to be theater lovers too.


Anonymous said...

Hey I am wondering where I can be hooked up with being in a broadway musical?? Do you got some contacts, web-pages, you know your stuff. If you can please contact me at my email
Thank you

jan@broadwayandme said...

Thanks for reading, Kara. Your best bet for hooking up a job with a Broadway show is to read Back Stage newspaper which lists shows that are auditioning. It's available at newsstands all over the city. Good luck with your search. Let me know if you find anything. Cheers, jan