Michael Bloomberg Proclaims May 29 Music Theatre International Day

By Adam Hetrick
May 29, 2012

Music Theatre International, the licensing company founded by veteran Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof orchestrator Don Walker in 1952, received a proclamation by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg naming May 29 Music Theatre International Day.



First established by Walker as Music Theatre Incorporated in 1952, the orchestrator later enlisted Guys and Dolls composer Frank Loesser to join him as a parter in the company, which Loesser later took over and renamed Music Theatre International in 1957. Current CEO Freddie Gershon acquired the company in the late 1980's with partner Cameron Mackintosh. Drew Cohen is the president of MTI.

The company handles the live performance rights to hundreds of musical titles, including the Stephen Sondheim and Disney catalogues, as well as Annie, Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story, and newer titles such as Legally Blonde, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Xanadu, 9 to 5, Avenue Q, Hairspray and Rent.

"For the past 60 years, Music Theatre International has brought great American musicals to young artists and audiences around the country," Bloomberg stated in the proclamation. "Founders Frank Loesser and Don Walker shared a commitment to arts classics like Guys and Dolls to a catalog of contemporary Disney favorites to life in schools and acting programs in more than 60 countries around the world. By providing scripts and materials to theaters throughout the five boroughs and around the globe, MTI, under the leadership of Freddie Gershon, has expanded the horizons of so many young New Yorkers, and helped engage the next generations of leaders in the performing arts."

The proclamation was presented during the May 29 Shubert Foundation/MTI Broadway JR. Student Program, which invited New York City school students to perform on the stage of the Shubert Theatre.

The program is a partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Shubert Foundation/MTI Broadway JR. program that helps build self-sustaining musical theatre programs in city schools that have little arts programming.

How to Succeed... star Nick Jonas hosted the event, which featured performances from over 1,200 students from New York City's five boroughs singing selections from Once On This Island JR, Annie JR, Guys and Dolls JR, Disney's Aladdin JR and more.

Music Theatre International CEO Freddie Gershon is also the recipient of a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for founding the Broadway JR program, which trims Broadway musicals into 60-minute productions for school-age performers.

Bloomberg's proclamation continued, "Our administration has always believed that the arts play a crucial role in education. The event presents us all with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the importance of programs and organizations that celebrate and strengthen the theater community and to renew our shared commitment to engaging students in all areas of creative endeavor. MTI's Broadway Jr. Program teaches students about every aspect of musical theater production, and promotes theater opportunities in schools that might not offer them otherwise. These efforts have made a strong positive impact in the lives of young New Yorkers, and together, we can look forward to a city that makes education and excellence in the arts a priority for all."