Class is in session as young artists Taylor Caldwell, Bobbi MacKenzie, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and Shahadi Wright Joseph take the stage in the new Broadway show, School of Rock- The Musical.
While Joseph made history at 9 years old becoming the youngest actress ever to play “Young Nala” in Broadway’s The Lion King, School of Rock marks the Broadway debut for pre-teen powerhouses Caldwell, Mackenzie and Niederaruer. The crew make up a quarter of the junior cast who earned a coveted role in the Broadway show with the largest children’s ensemble since Matilda.
“Taz” is an expert guitarist who, since performing on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” at 10, has paired up with some of the most notable musicians in the game. And11 year old MacKenzie recently had “the best week of [her] life” when she sang for Michelle Obama at the White House just days after previews began for School of Rock.
Based on the hit 2003 film starring Jack Black, “School of Rock – The Musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Completely disinterested in academic work, Dewey decides to create his own curriculum, turning his class into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band.”
The class of School of Rock has been having a blast since the cast was announced in September. The kids performed on the “Today Show” in October, received a spread in the November issue of “Vanity Fair” and recently announced they will be rocking out at the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Alex Brightman leads the cast as Dewey Finn, alongside Sierra Boggess as Principal Rosalie Mullins. Sister Act’s Alan H. Green joins the ensemble. Directed by Laurence Connor, the musical features a score by legend Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater and a book by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.
Here at Broadway Black, we love to see our little ones achieving greatness! Congratulations to all of the young stars!
School of Rock is currently in previews and opens at the Winter Garden Theater on Dec. 6. The show will also offer a daily lottery ticket drawing for a limited number of $25 front row orchestra tickets. Visit SchoolofRockMusical
.com for more information.
Okieriete Onaodowan to Host 3rd Annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival
Before picking up the accordion for his upcoming run in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, from the original cast of Hamilton, will host the third annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival for New York City Public Schools.
On Monday, March 13th at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street) at 7 p.m, more than 100 students from five New York City high schools across the city make their Broadway debuts performing from their selected winter musicals or plays.
Additional guest artist presenters include Shoba Narayan, Nicholas Belton, and Paul Pinto of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, with cast members from Dear Evan Hansen.
A panel of professional theatre artists and theatre educators selected a total of five productions from a pool of 25 schools. Students from the chosen schools will present excerpted scenes and musical numbers from:
The Music Man: Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens)
Almost, Maine: Brooklyn High School of the Arts (Brooklyn)
Company: Susan E. Wagner High School (Staten Island)
Angels In America: Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts (Manhattan)
Into The Woods: Edward R. Murrow High School (Brooklyn)
School principals and teachers, along with student family members, will attend to support their young performers representing four of the five boroughs, along with Philip J. Smith, Chairman of The Shubert Organization and Robert E. Wankel, President of The Shubert Organization.
New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña states:
“Theatre instruction teaches students the importance of rehearsing while building self-confidence and strengthening public speaking skills. 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 organisations like Shubert.”
According to the press release:
“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.”
Peter Avery, the Festival’s producer and the Director of Theater for the NYC Department of Education, further expressed the importance of the festival, and the impact it might have:
“How inspiring for our student performers to have such unique support for their Broadway debut of their show excerpts, from a professional tech crew and pit musicians to the broader embrace of the theatre community. Given today’s discourse, it is all the more crucial to celebrate the next generation of diverse, talented artists in our NYC public schools. These young men and women, representing a myriad of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, expand the definition of casting and collaborate to produce meaningful theatre for others.”
Sponsored by The Shubert Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), the festival focuses on the impact a full theatre program might have on students and school communities, and further enables them to see theatre and the arts as a potential career path. Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre/Arts programs.
For more information, visit Shubert Foundation.
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit Visits The Color Purple
Even though we’re out on summer vacation, the proud teacher in me never takes a break. Case in point, last night The Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit paid The Color Purple a visit and didn’t go out quietly. After curtain call the group of extremely talented youngsters SANG for the cast and BABY THOSE HARMONIES!
Thank God for social media, cast member Danielle Brooks reordered the lovely thank you message and tweeted:
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) June 29, 2016
Cynthia Erivo and Heather Headley also offered their gratitude via social media last night as well;
Thank you @mosaicdetroit for a wonderful evening. Good luck with everything, continue to be inspired and inspiring 🙂 😘❤️💜
— Cynthia Erivo (@CynthiaEriVo) June 29, 2016
Your gift to us in the end moved me more than anything. I look forward to handing over our roles to some of you😉! https://t.co/Uh7lB02N5b
— Heather Headley (@heatherheadley) June 29, 2016
What the Mosaic Youth Theatre is doing is such fulfilling and necessary work, them bringing all those kids out to Broadway makes me want to melt. Danielle Brooks summed it up perfectly in her Instagram post:
These are the moments that remind me that I have purpose, to stay selfless and keep a spirit of servitude. Today was a rough one for me, but these kids remind me of why I do this. We become their Lachanze, Jennifer Holliday, James Earl Jones. We become their Lillias White, Audra McDonald, Harry Belafonte. I don’t perform @bwaycolorpurple every night because of the paycheck, but because this story needs to be shared with the world and this generation needs to experience it. 💜 and on that note I’m going to bed. 🍊 tomorrow!! Season 5 begins!
A video posted by Danielle Brooks (@daniebb3) on Jun 28, 2016 at 7:44pm PDT