Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who created the roles of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the original Broadway production of Hamilton, hosts the third annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival for New York City Public Schools, presented March 13 at 7 PM at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street).
Shubert Foundation President Michael I. Sovern will introduce host Onaodowan. Additional guest artist presenters include Shoba Narayan, Nicholas Belton, and Paul Pinto from Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (which Onaodowan will step into beginning July 3) and Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson from Dear Evan Hansen.
Excerpts of five fully produced high school shows, identified from a pool of 25 productions, will be presented, and more than 100 students from those five New York City high schools will make their Broadway debuts.
Students from the following schools will offer excerpted scenes and musical numbers from their productions, which were presented during the 2016-17 school year:
The Music Man:
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens)
Almost, Maine: Brooklyn High School of the Arts (Brooklyn)
Company: Susan E. Wagner High School (Staten Island)
Angels in America: Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts (Manhattan)
Into the Woods: Edward R. Murrow High School (Brooklyn)
Attending the event will be school principals, teachers, and family members of the students as well as Philip J. Smith, Chairman of The Shubert Organization; and Robert E. Wankel, President of The Shubert Organization.
“Theatre instruction teaches students the importance of rehearsing, while building self-confidence and strengthening public speaking skills,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in a recent statement. “These are critical skills that prepare students for college, careers and beyond. That’s why I’m so pleased that we continue to expand access to theatre programs and arts education across the City. In particular, we are committed to leveraging the incredible connections we have to New York City’s rich cultural resources and developing meaningful arts partnerships with organizations like Shubert.”
“We are thrilled to present the third annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival,” added Shubert Chairman Smith. “It’s a perfect expression of what we’re trying to accomplish by supporting arts education. I look forward to watching these New York City stars of tomorrow light up the stage at the Music Box.”
The High School Theatre Festival, according to press notes, “showcases the ongoing and excellent theatre work currently taking place in NYC public high schools, as well as highlighting the positive effects of theatre study on skills for the stage and in life: collaboration, artistry, discipline, focus, literacy, student voice, self-awareness, presence, active listening and empathy. The evening focuses on the impact that a full theatre program can have on students and school communities, and enables students to see theatre and the arts as a potential career path.”
The Festival is sponsored by The Shubert Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre/Arts programs.
“How inspiring for our student performers to have such unique support for their Broadway debut of their show excerpts, from a professional tech crew and pit musicians to the broader embrace of the theatre community,” stated Peter Avery, the Festival’s producer and the Director of Theater for the NYC Department of Education. “Given today’s discourse, it is all the more crucial to celebrate the next generation of diverse, talented artists in our NYC public schools. These young men and women, representing a myriad of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, expand the definition of casting and collaborate to produce meaningful theatre for others.”
The Shubert Foundation, Inc. is the largest institutional funder of theatre education programs throughout NYC public schools and the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to unrestricted funding of not-for-profit theatres, with a secondary focus on dance. For more information, visit shubertfoundation.org.
PLAYBILLder will provide Playbills for the evening.
(Updated March 13, 2017)