Chicago – Now in its 2nd year, Goodman Theatre selects five Chicagoland elementary schools to participate in the “Disney Musicals in Schools” program–an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Productions to create sustainable musical theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools. The selected schools include John C. Haines Elementary School (China Town) performing Aladdin KIDS; Jonathan Y. Scammon Elementary School (Logan Square) performing The Lion King KIDS; Richard Yates Elementary School (Humboldt Park) performing Aladdin KIDS; Belmont-Cragin Elementary School (Belmont Cragin) performing The Lion King KIDS; and Gerald Delgado Kanoon Magnet Elementary School (Little Village) performing Aladdin KIDS. Coordinated by Goodman Theatre artists Adrian Azevedo and Anna Gelman, under the leadership of Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor, the five area public elementary schools received performance rights to a Disney KIDS musical of their choice, at no cost.
“We are incredibly excited to work with these five new schools in our second year of Disney Musicals in Schools,” said Gelman, Goodman Theatre Manager of School-based Programs. “These schools exemplify what excites us about the program, and we can’t wait to see what they create.”
In January, the selected schools began a 17-week musical theater residency. Each school received performance rights, education support materials and guidance from two teaching artists. The program features a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partner with Goodman Theatre teaching artists—Breon Arzell, Mateo Hernandez, Joelle Lamarre, Michelle Lauto, Darian Tene, Ana Velazquez and Paul Whitehouse—to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph and music direct, culminating in their first 30-minute Disney KIDS musical at their school. As a capstone to the experience, the Goodman will host a Spring Student Share Celebration in which each school performs one number from their show on the Albert Theatre stage for an audience of students, teachers, family, and community members. For more information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.5581.
“This incredible opportunity has brought out more than just enthusiasm from our kids—this experience has a school-wide effect and bringing together staff, administrators and our community,” said Sarah Peace, Music Teacher at Jonathan Y. Scammon Elementary. “Our students are ecstatic about this chance and I’m so excited to be on this journey with such a supportive team.”
Using the unique world of musical theater, Disney Musicals in Schools helps foster positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the community. Students and teachers work in teams, developing the wide spectrum of skills needed when producing a piece of musical theater, including: critical thinking, problem solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence and interpersonal skills.
Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in 2010 in response to Disney Theatrical Production’s concern that under-resourced public elementary schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Productions began partnering with organizations in other communities across the United States. Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), are 30-minute musicals designed for elementary school performers and have been adapted from the classic Disney films 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Winnie the Pooh.
DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS (DTP) operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world’s most successful commercial theatre enterprises, bringing live entertainment events to a global annual audience of more than 20 million people in more than 50 countries. Under the Disney Theatrical Productions banner, the group produces and licenses Broadway productions around the world, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida, TARZAN®, Mary Poppins, a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, The Little Mermaid, Peter and the Starcatcher, Newsies, Aladdin, and Frozen. Other successful stage musical ventures have included the Olivier-nominated London hit Shakespeare in Love, stage productions of Disney’s High School Musical, Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin, and King David in concert. DTP has collaborated with the country’s leading regional theatres to develop new stage titles including The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Freaky Friday.
Disney Theatrical Productions also delivers live shows globally through its license to Feld Entertainment, producer of Disney on Ice and Marvel Universe Live!, bringing beloved Disney stories and characters annually to over 12 million guests in nearly 50 countries worldwide. In addition, DTP licenses musical titles for local, school and community theatre productions through Music Theatre International, including The Lion King Experience, a unique holistic arts education program wherein accredited elementary and middle schools produce condensed, age-appropriate JR. and KIDS adaptations of The Lion King.
About Music Theatre International
Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser, and orchestrator Don Walker, MTI is a driving force in advancing musical theatre as a vibrant and engaging art form.
MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these musicals to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to over 70,000 professional, community and school theatres in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide.
MTI is particularly dedicated to educational theatre, and has created special collections to meet the needs of various types of performers and audiences. MTI’s Broadway Junior™ shows are 30- and 60-minute musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged performers, while MTI’s School Editions are musicals annotated for performance by high school students.
About Goodman Theatre
AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle;” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which marks its 41st production this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.
Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Denise Stefan Ginascol is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.