Created by Music Theatre International CEO and Tony Honors for Excellence recipient Freddie Gershon, the 2015 event allows eight "outstanding" theatre educators the opportunity to immerse themselves in the New York theatre scene, working one-on-one with industry professionals in a fully funded weekend of seminars, master classes and Broadway shows. In addition, each of the participating teacher's schools receives $5,000 from Gershon and his wife Myrna to enhance their arts program.
This year's participating teachers will be Beatrice (Bibi) Balerdi of St. Thomas the Apostle School in Miami, FL; Dee Anne Bryll of University Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory in Cincinnati, OH; Allison Isom of Bradley Academy Musical Theater in Murfreesboro, TN; Erin Langley of Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre in Fairhope, AL; Lisa Morrow of Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, IL; Ryan Olsen of PS 124 in New York City; Debbie Rollins of Durant Road Musical Theatre, Raleigh, NC; and Jose Rondon Jr. of the Community Theatre of Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.
The Gershons, who also created the Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards, underwrite the July 8-11 event. The educators were selected during the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, GA, this past January. The Junior Theater Festival is the world's largest musical theatre festival dedicated to educational musical theatre groups that work with elementary and middle school students. This year’s title sponsors were Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group and Playbill.
Leading the workshops will be Flaherty, Calhoun, Tony-winning director, choreographer and actor Christopher Gattelli, Tony-winning lighting designer Ken Billington and Broadway sound designer Matt Kraus. Additionally, there will be surprise appearances by other Broadway greats.
“The four days will fully engage the winning teachers in the Broadway musical theatre world and provide one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for them to take back to their schools, students and communities,” Gershon said. “These teachers perform inspiring work with limited financial resources. We want to give them the opportunity to live the Broadway experience and interact with qualified professionals to reward them for all they do to introduce the next generations to live theatre and simultaneously enhance their knowledge, skills and experience.”