On January 5, 3,000 excited students at the Junior Theater Festival were eagerly awaiting the arrival of a few actors and executive producers from the new NBC drama Smash. They weren't waiting to bombard the stars with autograph requests or to blind them with flashing cameras; nor were they waiting to ask them how to break into show biz. Rather, the budding thespians were on pins and needles waiting for the celebrities' announcement, which would reveal which of the 65 schools present at the festival in Atlanta would win one of the fifteen coveted spots in NBC's new philanthropic initiative "Smash: Make a Musical," which will work with the chosen schools to make and perform musicals, in hopes of building bases for long-term, self-sustaining theater programs.
And when the winners were finally announced, they included Place Bridge Academy, located at 7125 Cherry Creek North Drive in Denver.
NBC's "Smash: Make a Musical" is a spinoff of the new television drama Smash, set to premiere February 6, which plays off the age-old tale of a small-town girl (American Idol's Katharine McPhee) fighting to achieve her dream of starring in a Broadway musical. NBC partnered with iTheatrics' Junior Theater Project, another initiative that aims to "ensure kids everywhere experience the transformative power of musical theater," to create Make a Musical.
Place Bridge Academy and the fourteen other schools that won will all receive a "Broadway Junior Showkit" that includes the rights to perform a Broadway musical, scripts, choreography DVDs, sheet music; they also get two classes with iTheatrics' master teachers, a project adviser to help guide the program, two teacher stipends and technical theater fund.
Smash actors (from left) Jaime Cepero, Christian Borle and Brian d'Arcy James.
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The first fifteen schools, and the other five schools that will be added to the winner's circle soon after a final round of "call backs," are the pilots for Make a Musical. Smash will fund ten more full Make a Musical programs in schools this fall, and the Make a Musical initiative will expand to involve 200 schools across the country by fall 2012.
Schools that are interested in creating a "smash" hit with the help of Make a Musical can apply for the next round of grants here. Applications are due March 16, 2012.