WHARTON CENTER AND DISNEY THEATRICAL GROUP OFFER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS A CHANCE TO STUDY MUSICAL THEATER
Disney Musicals in Schools is an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create sustainable theater programs in local elementary schools. Annually, Wharton Center selects four Title 1, 70% free and/or reduced lunch or higher required, public elementary schools to participate. The after-school programs are completely free to participating schools. The program helps to keep the arts in schools and utilizes the unique world of musical theater to build positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the community. Educators and students work in teams to develop or restore self-confidence, strengthen communication and collaboration skills all while learning and enjoying the process of creating a Disney musical theater production.
Disney awarded $100,000 to Wharton Center to help fund the initial two years of this program. The Center is one of only 13 performing arts organizations to receive funding and the only one in Michigan. Private support will need to sustain this program after year 2.
Wharton Center Executive Director Mike Brand said, “This is such an incredible opportunity for local young people to participate in a program designed to engage them in the arts. It will no doubt spark new passions and motivation for many kids and we are so grateful to Disney for this generous grant.”
Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in response to Disney Theatrical Group’s concern that students in urban, public schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with organizations in other communities around the United States.
Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), are about 30 minutes in length and have been adapted from the classic Disney films, 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty and Winnie the Pooh.
DISNEY THEATRICAL GROUP (DTG) 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 musicals 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, and Newsies. Aladdin is its most recent Tony Award-winning Broadway hit; its most recent London production is the critically acclaimed comedy, Shakespeare In Love. Other successful stage musical ventures have included King David in concert, the national tour of On The Record, several touring versions of Disney’s High School Musical, and Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin.
DTP has collaborated with the country’s leading regional theatres to develop new stage titles including Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Jungle Book and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Disney Theatrical Group 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 Frozen, Princesses & Heroes, Treasure Trove, and Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure. In addition, DTG licenses musical titles for local, school and community theatre productions through Music Theatre International.
Music Theater International (MTI) is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting schools as well as amateur and professional theaters from around the world the rights to perform the largest selections of great musicals from Broadway and beyond. MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these shows to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to more than 60,000 theatrical organizations in the U.S. and in over 60 countries worldwide.
MTI is particularly dedicated to the idea of theater as education and has created special collections for younger performers. The MTI Broadway Junior Collection® includes “JR.” titles, 60-minute musicals for performance by middle school children; and “KIDS” titles, 30-minute musicals for performance by elementary school children. MTI School Editions™ are musicals that have been annotated for performance by high school students, and the Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) Collection are 70-minute musicals designed for adults to perform for children.