Chicago – Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer announce that Goodman Theatre will expand its Education programming into elementary schools with a $100,000 grant from Disney to bring the “Disney Musicals in Schools” program to the Chicago area. The program is an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Productions to create sustainable theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools. The grant funds two years of programming; Goodman Theatre, under the leadership of Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor, will select five area public elementary schools to participate in Spring 2018, and another five will be selected for the following year. Applications will be available in the fall; for more information, visit www.GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.5581.
“We are proud to build on our longtime relationship with Disney with this wonderful new partnership that expands our Education outreach into elementary schools for the first time,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “Willa Taylor has done extraordinary work over the past decade to exponentially increase and deepen the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programming. Disney Musicals in Schools continues that effort, giving Chicago youth a top-tier introduction to theater.”
“Under Robert Falls’ and Roche Schulfer’s leadership, Goodman Theatre continues to be one of the country’s premier theatrical institutions, creating compelling and innovative productions. Bob’s direction brought Aida to Broadway, and later led the vision that brought the first production of The Jungle Book to the stage. I am thrilled that we can continue our partnership by supporting this education program,” said Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer, Disney Theatrical Productions.
The selected schools will participate in a 17-week musical theater residency, led by a team of teaching artists trained by the Goodman and Disney Theatrical Productions, at no cost. Each school will receive performance rights, education support materials and guidance from the teaching artists. The program features a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partner with Goodman teaching artists 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 “Student Share Celebration,” in which each school performs one number from their show on the Goodman’s stage for an audience of students, teachers, family and community members.
“Disney Musicals in Schools’ emphasis on creating sustainable in-school programs by training teachers and parents aligns with the Goodman’s 30-year commitment to teacher praxis, and our long-term commitment to partner schools in our School Matinee Series,” said Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor. “The Goodman is excited to continue our relationship with Disney, and partner in this new way.”
Using the unique world of musical theater, Disney Musicals in Schools helps to 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.
What makes the Goodman unique as Chicago’s flagship not-for-profit theater is its equal devotion to furthering the art of theater and providing service to the community. For three decades, the Goodman has been committed to three core values—quality, diversity and community—and is distinguished by its proactive investment to the productions on stage; making aesthetic and cultural diversity the fabric of the institution; and developing programs that bring Arts as Education to Chicago youth, lifelong learners and audiences. This commitment is visibly demonstrated by the new Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre (opened Spring 2016), which has broadened and deepened the Goodman’s service to its community—efforts that evolved when Robert Falls became Artistic Director in 1986, and have exponentially expanded during the past 10 years under Taylor’s leadership. Today, the Goodman offers more than 20 Education and Engagement programs—100% of which are funded by individual contributions—offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities. Training teachers to use arts strategies in their classrooms for every subject area has always been central to the Goodman’s education efforts, demonstrated in its 30-year old flagship Education program, the School Matinee Series. For more than 20 years, the Goodman has offered a summer program designed to help Chicagoland high school students find their creative voice. PlayBuild | Youth Intensive, open to all 14- to 18-year old students in the Chicago metropolitan area, uses personal history and storytelling techniques to validate the voices of its participants and introduces them to all elements of theater creation—both on stage and behind the scenes. The 10-year-old Cindy Bandle Young Critics program helps young women develop the skills and critical literacy necessary to set them on a professional path. Of the 200+ alumni of this program, 100% have enrolled in college. Emerging programs established over the past decade—including GeNarrations, Youth Poetry Ensemble, Play ‘N 90, Musical Theater Intensive and this coming summer, a brand new program called NOURISH, in partnership with Michael Rohd and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice—add to the growing array of offerings made possible only through the state-of-the-art LEED-certified Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement.
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 19 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, and Aladdin. Frozen, based on the Academy Award®-winning film, will open on Broadway in 2018. 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 Disney Live! For over 30 years, Disney on Ice and Disney Live! have brought beloved Disney stories and characters annually to over 12 million guests in nearly 50 countries worldwide, through productions such as Marvel Universe Live! and Frozen, the most well attended and highest grossing Disney on Ice production to date. 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.
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) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls—“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers. 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 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. Joan E. Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.