The 16th annual Shubert Foundation/Music Theatre International Broadway Junior Student Finale premieres virtually on Playbill June 23. The annual event is the culmination of a program that helps NYC public schools affect school culture change through building sustainable theatre education programs. Watch the special performance above beginning at 7 PM ET.
Participating students, all from schools in the second and third years of the program, will share performances from their 2020–2021 productions, all of which were produced online. Shows represented include Annie KIDS, Disney's The Little Mermaid JR, Once on This Island JR, Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR, and Shrek the Musical JR.
Flip through the event's exclusive digital Playbill program:
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"I am enormously gratified, along with Team MTI, to witness how this program has matured and expanded over 16 years," says MTI Co-Chairman Freddie Gershon. "The unanticipated long-term impact on the students, schools, and local communities has gone beyond what any of us could have envisaged as the participating students are learning life skills, indispensable to their futures. These include the ability to collaborate, follow direction and instruction, practice self-discipline and work ethics, and use their imaginations while honing their verbal communication skills and developing social skills which will serve them well in navigating life. These are the great gifts to give a new generation, critical for success, and generally atypical of traditional curricula."
"Each student and teacher has demonstrated their perseverance but also their desire to remain creative and share stories—a wonderful reminder of the power of theatre education and inclusivity whether virtually or on stage, in the classroom and beyond," adds the program's producer and NYC Department of Education Director of Theater Peter Avery.
The three-year program pairs teachers and students with master teachers and industry experts from ArtsConnection, Broadway Bound Kids, and iTheatrics to put on their school's first-ever musical. In the second year, the partnership continues, but students and teachers are encouraged to take ownership over the production, setting the stage for fully independent productions beginning in the third year of the program.