One hundred and fifty talented NYC public school students will make their Broadway debuts this month when the 4th annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival for NYC Public Schools takes place on Monday, March 19 at the fabled Shubert Theatre (225 W. 45 St. — currently home to the Broadway smash Hello, Dolly!) This high-energy arts and education experience for students is presented by The Shubert Foundation and NYC Department of Education.
Over the course of the day on March 19, students from five NYC high schools – Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, Talent Unlimited High School in Manhattan, William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens, Professional Performing Arts High School in Manhattan, and LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts in Manhattan – will make their Broadway debuts from 7:00 to 9:00 pm performing selections from iconic musicals and plays, after having spent the afternoon in rehearsals on stage, as well as attending a full day of acting workshops and technical guidance with teachers, DOE volunteers, college PA’s and professional Broadway backstage crews, musicians and actors, according to Shubert Foundation President, Michael I. Sovern.
Among the Broadway stars scheduled to interact with the students over the course of the day are Tony Award winner Baayork Lee (choreographer, original cast of A Chorus Line) and Sasha Hutchings, from the original cast of Hamilton and currently in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. Additional celebrities and guests to be announced.
The Festival, a celebration featuring five outstanding high school student productions from the 2017-2018 school year, were selected from over 25 schools across the city by a panel of professional theatre artists and theatre educators. Over the course of the festival’s four-year history, school productions from all 5 boroughs have performed at the event. This year, student presentations from the following schools will present excerpted scenes and musical numbers as follows:
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens) – Ragtime
Talent Unlimited High School (Manhattan) – Machinal
William Cullen Bryant High School (Queens) – Henry’s Law
Professional Performing Arts High School (Manhattan) – West Side Story
LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts (Manhattan) – 42nd Street
In an unexpected turn of events during the ABC-TV telecast of the Oscar ceremony on March 4, nominee Timothy Chalamet, nominated for his performance in the film Call Me By Your Name, remarked during a live television hook-up with his teacher and students at his alma mater, LaGuardia High School, that his training there — thanks to arts funding in NYC Public Schools – was essential to his success as a rising young actor.
The High School Theatre Festival showcases the ongoing and excellent theatre work currently taking place in NYC public high schools, as well as highlighting the positive effects of theatre study on skills for the stage and in life: collaboration, artistry, discipline, focus, literacy, student voice, self-awareness, presence, active listening and empathy. The evening focuses on the impact that a full theatre program can have on students and school communities, and enables students to see theatre and the arts as a potential career path.
“Theatre instruction teaches students the importance of rehearsing, while building self-confidence and strengthening public speaking skills,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “These are critical skills that prepare students for college, careers and beyond. That’s why I’m so pleased that we continue to expand access to theatre programs and arts education across the City. In particular, we are committed to leveraging the incredible connections we have to New York City’s rich cultural resources and developing meaningful arts partnerships with organizations like Shubert.”
“We are so proud to have supported this Festival since its inception,” said Philip J. Smith, Chairman of The Shubert Organization. “The extraordinary talents of the students continue to astound year after year upon our Broadway stages.”
Sponsored by The Shubert Foundation, the festival is presented in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). Funding for the Festival and for a range of existing Shubert Foundation programs in New York City public schools comes from a grant of $570,000.
Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided more than $4.9 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre/Arts programs.
“How inspiring to have Broadway and the broader theatre community embrace our public school student performers. These impressive teen artists, representing varied NYC neighborhoods, points of view and cultural backgrounds, all worked together to produce inspired plays and musicals for their communities. Through their focus on excellence and collaboration, these student ensembles serve as a wonderful reminder for the power of inclusivity on stage and off,” said Peter Avery, the Festival’s producer and the Director of Theatre for the NYC Department of Education.
The Shubert Foundation, Inc. is the largest institutional funder of theatre education programs throughout NYC public schools and the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to unrestricted funding of not-for-profit theatres, with a secondary focus on dance. In 2017, the Foundation provided more than $26.8 million to 533 not-for-profit performing arts organizations across the United States. The Shubert Foundation, Inc. was established in 1945 by the legendary team of brothers, Lee and J.J. Shubert, producers of more than 520 plays, musicals and revues, as well as owners and operators of a nationwide network of legitimate theatres. For more information, visit www.shubertfoundation.org
The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in the United States, serving about 1.1 million students in more than 1,750 schools. The Department of Education supports universal access to arts education through the ArtsCount initiative, which tracks and reports student participation in arts education and holds schools accountable for meeting New York State Instructional Requirements for the Arts.
For more information, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/offices