Tony-winning King and I star Kelli O'Hara will serve as spokesperson for March's Theatre in Our Schools (TIOS) Month, an initiative of the Cincinnati-based Educational Theatre Association in partnership with American Alliance for Theatre & Education. They are hoping to promote a grassroots social-media campaign to keep and restore theatre programs in schools across the nation.
Executive director Julie Cohen Theobald said O'Hara is taping three video challenges that will start rolling out on TIOS social media on a date to be announced in mid-February. In the video O'Hara will tell how studying theatre in high school changed her life, and she will challenge her fans to share their stories with similar videos and tweets to be posted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.
The key, said Theobald, is not just to get the participation of people who actually work in the theatre, but people who work in all walks of life, and how their theatre training or experience enriched their lives and helped their careers.
Deputy executive director Doug Berlon said the long-term plan is to move government and boards of education to support theatre education where it exists, and to restore it where it has been cut.
In the first year of the campaign, however, the plan is just to get people excited enough to share their stories.
Theobald said she wants to "highlight the importance of school theatre and capture stories of how thespians are celebrating its value in their communities."
The main campaign will take place this March, which has been designated Theatre in Our Schools Month.
The organization's Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/schooltheatre.