Music Theatre International is partnering with Latiné Musical Theatre Lab to create new bilingual versions of Broadway Junior musicals, MTI's series of 30- and 60-minute musicals crafted for young performers. The collaboration will begin with a new edition of Shrek the Musical JR., adapted from Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire's musical.
The plan is to make new script editions that give kids the choice between English and Spanish, both for dialogue and stage directions. Productions using these new materials will be able to perform in one language entirely, or they can choose to use a bilingual mix. MTI expects these bilingual productions to be bespoke and tailored to the needs and skills of each specific group of performers. Materials for the production's creative team will also be made available in dual-language editions. The project aims to create new theatrical opportunities for Spanish-speaking and bilingual kids, along with facilitating productions more accessible to Spanish-speaking and bilingual audiences.
And Shrek is only the beginning of the initiative. More titles are reportedly on the way.
"We are enormously thrilled to be working with such an important and impactful organization as Latiné Musical Theatre Lab. And we are also grateful to Dreamworks and authors Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire for their support of this new groundbreaking program," says MTI Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development and Education John Prignano. "As we have learned from our new friends at LMTL, representing the bilingual experience onstage can neutralize the alienating, othering effect that speaking a second language can often bring. In performing this version of Shrek JR., primarily Spanish-speaking performers will have the opportunity to explore English in the exact same way that primarily English-speaking performers will have the opportunity to explore Spanish."
"Revolutionizing the future of musical theatre begins with our youth," adds LMTL Founder and Producing Artistic Director Ryan Morales Green. "The Lab is committed to creating a world of equity and opportunity for Latiné artists of all ages, and we could not be more excited to partner with MTI on this historic new initiative. Developing Bilingual Broadway Junior shows and making them accessible to Spanish speaking artists and audiences brings the art form we love directly to more children, families, and communities."
The collaboration is new territory for the Latiné Musical Theatre Lab, which has primarily worked on the development of new works for adult performers and audiences. The group looks to spotlight Latine theatre writers while also working to develop Latine audiences and donors.
The Broadway Junior collection also includes adaptations of Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Fiddler on the Roof, among many other titles.