Disney Musicals in Schools is a free outreach program that is offered to a limited number of public elementary schools each year. The program was designed in response to Disney Theatrical Groups’ mounting concern that under-resourced public elementary schools were not afforded “equitable access to the arts.” Through the program, participating schools receive free performance rights and ShowKit materials to a 30-minute Disney musical specifically written for elementary schools. Currently, the seven Disney titles that are offered for the program are Aladdin, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Aristocats, Cinderella, and 101 Dalmatians. The Disney Musicals in Schools program has set out to not only bring sustainability to arts programming, but also to develop critical awareness and appreciation of the arts with students around the country.
When a school is selected to join the program, professional teaching artists help guide faculty through the process of producing a musical during the semester. While the end result is a staged 30-minute musical, the program is designed to focus not only on the process of theatre skills but also the building blocks of social skills such as confidence, collaboration and communication. The goals of the program are to “expose students and school faculty to the wide spectrum of skills that are developed when producing a piece of musical theatre, including critical thinking, problem solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence, and interpersonal skills.”
For participating students in New York City, the end of the year proves to be a truly exciting time. On June 6, 2017, the New Amsterdam Theatre hosted ten schools for the Disney Musicals in Schools Student Share Celebration: PS 216 The Arturo Toscanini School (Brooklyn), P373 @ PS 48 (Staten Island), PS/IS 127Q (Queens), PS 17Q Henry David Thoreau School (Queens), P53K (Brooklyn), CS 55 The Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (Bronz), PS 253 The Magnet School of Multicultural Humanities (Brooklyn), PS 106 The Parkchester School (Bronx), S 13 The Margaret L. Lindemeyer School (Staten Island), and PS 24K (Brooklyn). Each school had the extraordinary opportunity to perform a selection from a Disney KIDS musical on a Broadway stage for an audience that included fellow students, family members, and friends. These schools, representing all five boroughs, worked for over 17 weeks with Disney Teaching Artists for their final year-end presentation. This year’s Student Share Celebration was hosted by Don Darryl Rivera (Aladdin) and Bonita J. Hamilton (The Lion King).
To date, Disney Musicals in Schools has served over 21,000 students, 175 schools, and 600 teachers with 120 teaching artists participating in the programs. The program is currently available in 13 cities:
Nashville, TN (Tennessee Performing Arts Center): launched in 2012
New York, NY (Disney Theatrical Group): launched in 2010
Las Vegas, NV (Smith Center for the Performing Arts): launched in 2013
Orange County, CA (Segerstrom for the Performing Arts): launched in 2014
Seattle, WA (Seattle Theatre Group): launched in 2014
Bay Area, CA (Bay Area Children’s Theatre): launched in 2015
Cleveland, OH (Playhouse Square): launched in 2015
East Lansing, MI (Wharton Center for Performing Arts): launched in 2015
Newark, NJ (New Jersey Performing Arts Center): launched in 2015
Boston, MA (Boston Children’s Theatre): launched in 2016
Madison, WI (Overture Center for the Arts): launched in 2016
Omaha, NE (Omaha Performing Arts): launched in 2016
Orlando, FL (Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts): launched in 2016
Beginning this fall, the program will roll out to five additional cities:
London, England (Eastside Charitable Trust) –First international location
Louisville, KY (StageOne Family Theatre)
West Palm Beach, FL (Kravis Center for the Performing Arts)
Chicago, IL (Goodman Theatre)
Los Angeles, CA (Center Theatre Group)
For more information on Disney Musicals in Schools or how your school can get involved, please visit disneymusicalsinschools.com.