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Disney Musicals in Schools Theater Grant Opens “A Whole New World” for Newark Area Students

Disney Musicals in Schools Theater Grant Opens “A Whole New World” for Newark Area Students

(NEWARK, NJ) -- How do you get to NJPAC’s Prudential Hall stage?  Practice -- for exactly 17 weeks.

That was the amount of time blocked out by nearly 250 students in five Greater Newark elementary schools to “graduate” from the Disney Musicals in Schools program.  A rare opportunity, which brought the youngsters on stage to perform before an audience in the New Jersey Performing Art Center’s main concert hall, was put into motion last year by a $100,000 grant awarded to the Arts Center by Disney Theatrical Group.

The recent event was titled a Student Share Celebration, but wishes fulfilled was an evident theme, beginning with a pièce d’occasion by famed Disney songwriter Alan Menken, “It Starts with a Dream.” Belting out that opening number, dressed in colorful costumes of their own creation, were the ensemble casts of Branch Brook School, Luis Muñoz Marin School for Social Justice and Mount Vernon School, all in Newark, John Marshall School No. 20 in Elizabeth and Rosa Parks Community School in Orange, New Jersey.

Each of the public schools presented a leap-to-your-feet number from a Disney KIDS Musical – on this day, Aladdin and The Lion King reigned – while grown-ups beamed from their orchestra seats. The Disney grant provided for teaching artists to assist classroom instructors in producing the 30-minute musicals – presented for the school community – as well as such resources as performance rights, soundtracks and design guidelines, at no cost to schools. During the 17-week residency, students of various grade levels also collaborated behind the scenes on creative essentials like lobby displays and stage crew.

NJPAC is one of nine collaborators nationwide for Disney Musicals in Schools and the only one based in New Jersey.

NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber and Newark Schools Superintendent, Christopher Cerf and led rounds of applause for the kids and their teachers, while Emmy-winning Eyewitness News anchor and self-confessed theater geek Lori Stokes stepped up to host. (Disney is the owner of her network, ABC.) A cast member of Broadway’s The Lion King, Bonita J. Hamilton, spoke of her own experiences as an actor and the rewards of making lifelong friends of her onstage comrades.

Disney Musicals in Schools Theater Grant Opens “A Whole New World” for Newark Area Students

Photo #1: John Marshal No. 20 Students Performing 

Photo #2: Front Row (L-R): Timothy Maynes,  Disney Assistant, Education & Outreach; Lori Stokes, ABC-7 Eyewitness News Anchor; John Schreiber, NJPAC President and CEO; Bonita Hamilton, Ms. Hamilton plays Shenzi in Broadway's hit musical, The Lion King; Colleen McCormack, Disney Assistant Manager, Creative Development 

Back Row (L-R): Sarah Kenny, Manager, Disney Education & Outreach; Lauren Chapman, Disney Manager, Teaching & Learning and Resident Teaching Artist; Lisa Mitchell, Disney Senior Manager, Education & Outreach; David Schrader, Disney Executive Vice President 


Photo Credit: Norman DeShong



originally published: 2016-02-18 20:02:10

From Our Magazine

Theatre Preview: February 2018

Theatre Preview: February 2018

Each month, New Jersey Stage Magazine presents a special advertising section promoting shows around the Garden State. All theatres (professional and community) can be part of this preview each month by advertising with New Jersey Stage.  The preview runs in our monthly magazine and online, with links back to the theatre's website.  It's a great way to promote your play throughout the entire state.

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Ain’t Misbehavin’

The arts community throughout New Jersey has been buzzing with anticipation ever since the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center project was first announced.  It will be a facility to rival any in Central New Jersey and one that will be home to many arts organizations.  

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy

Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken will kick off 2018 with a production of Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry.  The play, set in the South between the late 1940s and early 1970s, explores an unlikely friendship between an elderly white Southern Jewish woman, Daisy Werthan, and her African-American chauffer, Hoke Colburn. The original production ran for nearly 1,200 performances and won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, while a 1989 film starring Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, and Dan Aykroyd won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

"The Calling" An Interview With Playwright Joel Stone

"The Calling" An Interview With Playwright Joel Stone

New Jersey Repertory Company presents the World Premiere of The Calling by Joel Stone from January 4th through February 4th in Long Branch. This play was commissioned by NJPAC’s Stage Exchange in Association with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and NJRep.

Sunday, Feb 25, 2018

ART @ Centenary Stage Company - Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 2:00pm

Anything Goes @ Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair - 2:00pm

Seton Hall University Theatre STEEL MAGNOLIAS @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 2:00pm

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