NBC and "Smash" Plan New Musicals Initiative in U.S. Schools

News   NBC and "Smash" Plan New Musicals Initiative in U.S. Schools
The new NBC television series "Smash," about the making of the next big Broadway musical, is launching an initiative to implement theatre programs in 20 pilot schools across the U.S. this month.

NBC is funding the first round of 20 schools in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Nashville, Phoenix, Seattle and New York. The participating schools will be announced during the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta the weekend of Jan. 13.

In a partnership with iTheatrics (which creates the Broadway JR musical series), the "Make a Musical" initiative aims to plant and nurture self-sustaining theatre programs in schools were there is limited-to-no arts programming.

The program supplies each school with the MTI Broadway JR Collection showkit (musicals like Annie, Into the Woods, Fiddler On the Roof and Once On This Island are part of the catalogue), as well as a professional arts advisor, who will guide teachers and students through the process of staging a musical. A technical theatre stipend and master classes with iTheatrics team will also be part of the "Smash" sponsorship. Each program will result in public performances, with the intent that the program will continue the following year.

"'Smash' centers around a group of people working to be part of a Broadway musical," NBC marketing president Len Fogge said in a statement. "It's only fitting that NBC play a role to further empower students and teachers to discover the thrill of one of America's most unique art forms through the process of creating their own musical theater programs."

Following the 20-school pilot launch, iTheatrics is aiming to add 180 more "Make a Musical" programs later this fall, with the goal of more than 1,000 new school arts programs spawned across the U.S. by 2014. "Musical theatre is the ultimate team sport," iTheatrics founder Tim McDonald said in a statement. "It allows young people to learn important life skills and an appreciation of the arts by working together towards the common goal of presenting a show. Through NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical program, NBC is literally building the future artists and arts-supporters of tomorrow by giving schools the knowledge they need to create stand-alone arts programs in their communities."

Applications are now open for the second cycle of the "Make a Musical" program, which will begin this fall. Click here to apply.

"Smash" will premiere Feb. 6. Steven Spielberg, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are among the producers of the series, that traces the development of a new Broadway musical Marilyn - based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The cast features Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, Raza Jaffrey, Brian d’Arcy James and Jaime Cepero.

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