Program Brings Broadway To Students Across The World
Students Live! is a program that's helping to bring a little bit of Broadway into the lives of young people around the world. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.
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The classroom: Broadway. The course: musical theater. And the faculty: members of the Great White Way. Welcome to the school of Students Live!
Students Live! founder Amy Weinstein created the company after she was asked by the producers of the original production of "Rent" to form a curriculum that would help develop young audiences for Broadway.
"It grew into an interactive training ground to connect Broadway artists in front of and behind the scenes to young people from all over the world," Weinstein said.
Students Live! teacher and "Wicked" dance captain Alicia Albright regularly conducts a Broadway choreography workshop for aspiring young performers. On the day NY1 stopped by, Albright was teaching a portion of the song "Dancing Through Life" to some students.
"The goal is that they leave remembering that hard work brings results and also, no matter what they do, whether they pursue this or not, if they do pursue it, hopefully it gives them hope and inspiration to pursue it and if they don't, hopefully they will support the arts and the Broadway community for the rest of their lives," Albright said.
"It kind of reminds us if we want to be an actor or singer, we can if we work hard and we put our minds to it," said dancer Gianna Newborg.
While musical theater and Broadway are considered staples of American culture, in 2008 Students Live! opened up their program to folks overseas.
Forty-eight students from South Korea are currently putting the finishing touches on their musical show entitled "Journey to America." The musical revue features well known Broadway songs including "One," "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "NYC." Tony-nominated actor John Tartaglia and Broadway casting director Benton Whitley recently attended a rehearsal to provide the kids with some musical theater advice.
"You forget that these kids are from another country. Most of them don't speak English at all and all of a sudden they come here and in 14 days, it's total immersion," Tartaglia said. "All of a sudden, they're singing all these complicated lyrics from 40 different Broadway shows. From where they started to where they are now, it's incredible. It's overwhelming."
"I think a lot of times, kids from other cultures think they should be seen and not heard," Whitley said. "I think theater is an incredible outlet for them to actually realize that's not always the case."
Veteran Broadway producer Alecia Parker said programs like Students Live! are essential for the New York theater community and beyond.
"It makes our industry stronger and builds new audiences for tomorrow, which we can't ever forget about," she said.
While her program seems to be thriving, Weinstein said she has big plans for the future.
"My goal in the next five years is to have a brand name that Broadway has as a conservatory on Broadway to develop younger audiences," she said. "Not necessarily just to sell a ticket but to create what they need to cast in their shows and to create appreciation for all the shows."
For more information on the Students Live program, log on to www.studentslive.net.