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Students from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts perform at the 2022 High School Theatre Festival. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

9th Annual High School Theatre Festival to Showcase Public Schools

In addition to performances from 5 NYC high schools, teens will back a senior citizen from Nevada who’s getting his wish to perform on a Broadway stage.

NEW YORK CITY: The Shubert Foundation and the NYC Department of Education Arts Office will present the ninth annual High School Theatre Festival on March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Broadhurst Theatre. The festival will celebrate five outstanding high school student productions from the 2022-23 school year, selected from more than 20 productions across the city by professional theatre artists and theatre educators. Throughout the festival’s history, school productions from all five boroughs have performed at the event.

This year, the following schools will present excerpted scenes and musical numbers: Professional Performing Arts High School (Manhattan), Rent ; William Cullen Bryant High School (Queens), The Band’s Visit; Fordham High School of the Arts (Bronx), The Crucible; The Beacon School (Manhattan), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play; and Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens), Carrie, The Musical. More than 100 talented young NYC public school theatre artists will make their Broadway debuts.

“The arts are the lifeblood of our great city, and it is opportunities like this that allow our young people to harness the creative energy that lives within their communities,” said schools chancellor David C. Banks in a statement. “I am so grateful for our partnership with the Shubert Foundation whose commitment and investment of nearly $8 million has made a profound and lasting impact on theatre and arts education in our schools.”

In addition to showcasing the ongoing theatre work currently taking place in NYC public high schools, the High School Theatre Festival highlights the crucial skills of theatre study for the stage and in life: collaboration, artistry, discipline, focus, literacy, student voice, self-awareness, presence, and empathy. The evening focuses on the impact that a dedicated theatre program can have on students and school communities, enabling students to see theatre and the arts as a potential career path.

“Each year the talent of the student actors making their Broadway debuts is outstanding and this year will be no exception” said Diana Phillips, president of the Shubert Foundation in a statement. “We are proud to play a part in their journey to Broadway on an evening which spotlights the excellence of theatre programs in our NYC public schools and the importance of theatre education for all.”  

The evening’s hosts will be Adrianna Hicks and J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot). Additional guest presenters will include Danny Burstein (Pictures From Home), Justin Cooley (Kimberly Akimbo), Latoya Edwards (White Girl in Danger), Amelia Fei (How to Dance in Ohio), Bill Irwin (Endgame), Michael Iskander (Kimberly Akimbo), Katrina Lenk (Company), Apollo Levine (MJ the Musical), Tony Shalhoub (The Band’s Visit) and Ben Jackson Walker (& Juliet).

Funding for the festival and for a range of existing Shubert Foundation programs in New York City public schools comes from a Shubert Foundation grant of $645,000 for 2022-23. Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided close to $8 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre and arts education programs.

Additionally, the festival will include a special cameo performance supporting AARP’s Wish of a Lifetime as Nevada resident Howard Shapiro (age 74) fulfills his dream to perform on a Broadway stage. Howard, backed by 26 participating teen artists, will perform “To Life” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof and share his story of overcoming obstacles and perseverance as an older adult and member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“The theatre enabled me to feel more comfortable and come out of my shell, I could express myself fully for the first time,” said Shapiro in a statement. “I am honored to perform alongside such talented young people and to share my story with them. I want them to know how fortunate they are to have such opportunities that I never even knew existed.” 

The Shubert Foundation, Inc. is the largest institutional funder of theatre education programs throughout NYC public schools and the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to unrestricted funding of not-for-profit theatres, with a secondary focus on dance. In 2022, the Foundation provided $37.6 million to 609 not-for-profit performing arts organizations across the United States. The Shubert Foundation, Inc. was established in 1945 by the legendary team of brothers, Lee and J.J. Shubert, producers of more than 520 plays, musicals and revues, as well as owners and operators of a nationwide network of legitimate theatres.

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