[01/06/12 - 10:45 AM]
NBC and iTheatrics Announce Philanthropic Initiative to Bring Sustainable Musical Theater Programs to the Nation's Underserved Schools
The "Smash"-driven initiative will work with local schools across the country to stage their own productions and implement self-sustaining programs.

[via press release from NBC]


"NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical" Set to Launch This Month in 20 Schools in 20 U.S. Cities

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- January 6, 2012 - NBC and iTheatrics are teaming up for the national launch of "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical," a philanthropic initiative that will help create sustainable musical theater programs in underserved schools nationwide.

Timed with NBC's launch of the new musical drama series "Smash," the initiative will work with local schools across the country to stage their own productions and implement self-sustaining programs. The initiative will launch in 20 schools in 20 U.S. cities (see market list below) this month.

NBC will underwrite the initial 20-market program rollout with Broadway master professionals going into the schools and mentoring students and teachers. Additionally, the network and its affiliates will provide marketing and publicity support across multiple platforms including on-air, online and print media. NBC is also cross-promoting the initiative with several of its strategic partners, including Gilt City, Music Theatre International and Broadwayworld.com. The partnership will kick off in earnest at The Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta January 13-15, where stars from "Smash" will join with iTheatrics to announce the first 20 schools selected.

The 20-market pilot launch will be the catalyst for iTheatrics' Junior Theater Project to produce 180 additional "Make a Musical" programs in the fall. In 2013, iTheatrics plans to launch an additional 200 programs and by 2014, the goal is to have 1,000 new arts programs positively impacting over one million U.S. students.

America has the opportunity to apply now for local schools to be a part of the Fall 2012 program (second cycle) at makeamusical.org.

NBC's new drama "Smash" premieres February 6 (10-11 p.m. ET) and stars Debra Messing ("Will & Grace"), Katharine McPhee ("American Idol") and Oscar winner Anjelica Huston ("Prizzi's Honor"), among others.

The nationwide partnership announcement was made by Len Fogge, President of Marketing, NBC Entertainment, and Timothy Allen McDonald, founding chairman of iTheatrics.

"'Smash' centers around a group of people working to be part of a Broadway musical," said Fogge. "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."

"Musical theater is the ultimate team sport. 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," said McDonald. "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."

The 20 programs launching this month are in the following cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Ore.), Boston, Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Houston, Nashville, New York, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and St. Louis (participating schools will be announced on January 15).

Beginning today, local schools, educators and students are encouraged to visit makeamusical.org to apply to be part of the Fall 2012 program. Applications, complete with photos, are due by March 2, 2012, to makeamusical.org to be reviewed by iTheatrics' Junior Theater Project. On March 26, a group of finalists will be posted and the American public will have the chance to vote for its 10 favorites. On May 7, the 10 winning schools selected to have a full Make a Musical program installed in their school will be announced.

Additionally 20 schools will be awarded an MTI Broadway Junior Collection "ShowKit" of resources designed to guide cast and crew through the production process, plus licensing rights to perform a full musical. Schools may continue to apply for the remaining 170 Make a Musical program slots set to launch in the fall, and the schools will be selected in August 2012.

Administered by the Junior Theater Project in partnership with NBC's "Smash," the programs in the first 20 schools will launch this month with nationally recognized master theater teachers leading professional development workshops for the school teachers and students in each of the schools. These workshops take educators step-by-step through the process of producing a first-ever musical. The teachers select their musical, hold auditions and cast the show.

Each school is given a MTI Broadway Junior Collection "ShowKit" featuring accompaniment CDs, sheet music, choreography DVDs, scripts and more. They will be guided through the entire process by a local program advisor, offering teachers and students the support and encouragement they need in order to take ownership over their productions. At the completion of the program, each school will put on multiple public performances of its show for the entire community and will take part in a final professional development workshop specifically focused on evaluating the process and planning for the future.

While this is the first time a program of this nature has been launched nationally, iTheatrics has been involved in similar city-specific projects for Music Theatre International and other organizations in the past. The project was originally developed by Music Theatre International with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and was featured in the nationally televised PBS documentary "Children Will Listen." In 2005, the New York City Department of Education launched a special program for New York City public schools in The Shubert Foundation/Music Theatre International Broadway Junior Project, which to date has built 50 musical theater self-sustaining programs in underserved New York City middle schools with a 100 percent success rate.

"Smash" is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire -- to be a "Smash." The cast features Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, Raza Jaffrey, Brian d'Arcy James and Jaime Cepero. The executive producers are Steven Spielberg, Theresa Rebeck, David Marshall Grant, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

iTheatrics uses the transformative power of the arts to make the world a better place. The company adapts existing Broadway and West End musicals for students at all age levels -- including elementary, middle and high school -- to perform. In addition, iTheatrics also creates a teacher's tool chest of resources which provides educators with enhancements such as choreography DVDs, accompaniment CDs, director's guides and curriculum connections. iTheatrics' clients include The Jim Henson Company, Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, the Roald Dahl Estate and McMillan/McGraw-Hill. Likewise, iTheatrics also develops new musicals for family audiences such as "The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley," "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach." Junior Teaching Intensives from iTheatrics provide professional development for teachers in the area of musical theater and its Junior Theater Academy provides young artists with an innovative outlet for developing their skills as performers and artists.

  [january 2012]  


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