Jeff Calhoun, Christopher Gattelli, Stephen Flaherty, Ken Billington and Matt Kraus to work with the teachers.
Eight outstanding educators from schools and performing arts centers around the country will work one-on-one with Broadway greats at the 6th Annual FREDDIE G FELLOWSHIP July 8th – 11th. The event has once again been underwritten by Myrna and Freddie (“G”) Gershon, Chairman and CEO of leading theatrical licensor Music Theatre International (MTI). The four days of classes and activities honor instructors and teachers who are working to make a difference for their students and communities through the process of staging musical theatre productions in their schools and educational theatre groups. In addition to the New York experience, each of the teachers’ schools receives $5,000 from Freddie and Myrna to enhance their arts program.
This year teachers will attend special workshops led by Tony Honor® winning director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun, Tony Award® and Oscar® winning composer Stephen Flaherty, Tony Award® winning director, choreographer and actor Christopher Gattelli, Tony Award® winning lighting designer Ken Billington and Broadway sound designer Matt Kraus. They join the tradition of Broadway professionals who have given workshops and joined the Freddie G winners in prior years (including Stephen Schwartz, Jeanine Tesori, Warren Carlyle, Baayork Lee, Chad Beguelin, Nell Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe, among others). Additionally, there will be surprise appearances by Broadway greats. Past Freddie G surprise guests have included Stephen Sondheim, Bobby and Kristen Lopez, Douglas Carter Beane, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Bernadette Peters.
“The four days will fully engage the winning teachers in the Broadway musical theatre world and provide one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for them to take back to their schools, students and communities,” says Gershon. “These teachers perform inspiring work with limited financial resources. We want to give them the opportunity to live the Broadway experience and interact with qualified professionals to reward them for all they do to introduce the next generations to live theatre and simultaneously enhance their knowledge, skills and experience.”
Dozens of educators attending the 2015 annual Junior Theater Festival of 5,000 attendees, applied for the program, and eight in total were selected (a full list follows). The educators will participate in dynamic, hands-on master classes with some of Broadway’s leading choreographers, directors, producers, actors and designers. They will be immersed in Broadway, will attend a current hit show and then take a backstage tour, observe a developmental workshop performance of Mary Poppins “JR.” (one of the newest potential Broadway Junior titles), with Thomas Schumacher President of Disney Theatrical Group, and experience Broadway as theatre insiders…giving their feedback to the developmental process from their p.o.v.
“Without teachers there is no Broadway Junior. Myrna and I feel strongly about our personally investing in teachers and immersing them in experiential skills they can take home and utilize to guide their students and pass on to other teachers,” added Gershon. “It’s crucial we keep live theatre thriving in this country by working with both educators and children. Myrna and I believe that America’s teachers should be honored and appreciated. Our future is in their hands.”
The Junior Theater Festival is the world’s largest musical theatre festival dedicated to educational musical theatre groups that work with elementary and middle school students. This year’s title sponsors were Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill®.
Following are the eight teachers attending the 6th Annual Freddie G Fellowship
• Beatrice (Bibi) Balerdi: St. Thomas the Apostle School – Miami, Florida
• Dee Anne Bryll: University Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory, Cincinnati, Ohio
• Allison Isom: Bradley Academy Musical Theater, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
• Erin Langley: Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre , Fairhope, Alabama
• Lisa Morrow: BRAVO! – Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Oak Park, Illinois
• Ryan Olsen: PS 124, New York, New York
• Debbie Rollins: Durant Road Musical Theatre, Raleigh, North Carolina
• Jose Rondon Jr.: Community Theatre of Greensboro, Greensboro North Carolina
Music Theatre International www.mtishows.com is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, protecting the rights and legacies of composers, lyricists and book writers. MTI’s core business is issuing licenses, scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to schools as well as amateur and professional theatres across the globe.
With over 300 classic and contemporary show titles from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London’s West End, MTI shows have been performed by over 70,000 theatrical organizations in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide.
MTI is a strong proponent of educational theatre and in 1996 (after a two–year incubation period) MTI Chairman and CEO Freddie Gershon created “MTI’s Broadway Junior musicals” – 30 and 60-minute shows for younger performers. During the past twenty years over 5,000,000 students and over 500,000 educators have been involved in at least one of the over 150,000 global productions of a Broadway Junior musical.