Ten schools from across the country have been chosen from more than 1,000 competitors for the second phase of "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical" program, a philanthropic initiative that aims to help create self-sustaining musical theater programs in under-served schools nationwide.
More than 250,000 votes were cast online to choose the winning schools, which earned the grand prize of a full mentorship package to stage their first musicals, with rights provided to a show from Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior Collection. Master teachers will visit these schools in the fall to guide educators through the process of putting on a show. Twenty additional finalists will be awarded an MTI "Showkit" and licensing rights to perform a musical.
The first round of 20 schools was announced in January, before the premiere of "Smash" on NBC. These schools will present their first-ever musicals in May and June of this year. According to iTheatrics, 640 hours of teacher training has been completed, more than 1,000 children are currently rehearsing their very first musical, more than 13,000 children now have access to quality arts programs in their schools, and more than 52,000 people will attend these phase one school performances. The goal of the program is to create 1,000 new musical theater programs in schools over the next five years.
Timothy A. McDonald, founder and CEO of iTheatrics, told Back Stage in April that iTheatrics will continue to support new musical theater programs throughout the year, and the organization plans to add an additional 170 schools to the list this fall. These schools will be selected in August 2012.
McDonald said that the cast of "Smash" has spoken to him about their own childhood arts experiences, as well. Many of them credit an arts teacher for not only getting them into the business, but also preparing them for life outside of school.
Jaime Cepero, who plays Ellis on the show, was a junior when his Boston-area high school eliminated its theater department. He had the opportunity to perform as a freshman and sophomore, though, which planted the seeds for his current onscreen career.
"He actually has experienced this firsthand, and is really passionate about how important it is," McDonald said of Cepero. "He was like, 'What if I had shown up two years later? I don't know that I would be on this show, I don't know that I'd have done the shows that I've done, and I don't know that this would be my career. I don't know what I would be doing.' "
Read more about "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical" at BackStage.com.
The 10 "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical" Fall 2012 winners are:
University High School in Los Angeles, CA
LaGrange High School in Lake Charles, LA
Vandercook Lake High School in Jackson, MI
Muskegon High School in Muskegon, MI
Green Hills School in Greendell, NJ
Teaneck Community Charter School in Teaneck, NJ
Big Beaver Falls Area Middle Schools in Beaver Falls, PA
Desert Wind Elementary School (K-8) in El Paso, TX
Ashland Middle School in Ashland, WI
Blennerhassett Middle School in Parkerburg, WV
The 20 additional "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical" Fall 2012 finalists are:
Conway Christian School in Conway, AR
Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA
Charles E. Hart Middle School, in Washington, DC
Haralson County Middle School in Tallapoosa, GA
Gary Corner College Prep in Chicago, IL
South Middle School in Brockton, MA
Ambrose Elementary School in Winchester, MA
Johnnycake Elementary School in Baltimore, MD
Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, MI
Confluence Academy Walnut Park in Saint Louis, MO
Hunter High School in Gastonia, NC
The Newcomers School in Greensboro, NC
Moreno Valley High School in Angel Fire, NM
The Global Learning Collaborative in New York, NY
Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, NY
Lane Middle School in Portland, OR
Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School in Philadelphia, PA
A+ Academy in Dallas, TX
Ben Franklin Elementary in Wichita Falls, TX
Giaudrone Middle School in Tacoma, WA