A group of 52 student performers from Bryan-College, TX, will have stars in their eyes when the American Theatre Wing helps secure Broadway tickets for them during a July 19-29 residency in New York City.
But the theatre hopefuls, aged 7-17, will also get practical lessons and a dose of reality by taking classes and seminars to learn what it's like to be a workaday New York performer.
The Brazos Valley Troupe, as the student performers are known, has made an annual visit to New York City for the past five years, but this is the first time they have been this involved with the Wing, the theatre advocacy group that co-sponsors the Tony Awards.
"I met them last year when they were on their trip, and I got to talking to their leader," Wing program administrator David Obele told Playbill On Line. Obele suggested that in 2000 the kids immerse themselves more deeply than ever in the community by getting advice from working performers, tech folk and others.
Bryan Hull, the actor who has played more than 8,000 performances in Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks (as The Old Actor) is among artists who will speak to the group. The Wing also invited the Texans to participate in the Wing's Hospital Program, the year-round initiative that offers performances in hospitals, nursing homes and care centers. The Wing, said Obele, puts on five all volunteer shows a day, 365 days a year at care centers throughout Metropolitan New York City. The Texas group will create their own shows for these facilities; the group has a similar program in its home state.
Through the Wing's Introduction to Broadway program, the young people will also see Broadway shows and meet casts.
The Wing's involvement with the Brazos Valley Troupe is part of the nonprofit organization's commitment to developing audiences and artists and supporting and servicing the community, Obele said.
-- By Kenneth Jones