Tony winners Shuler Hensley and LaChanze—also a 2022 Tony nominee for her performance in Trouble in Mind—will host The Shubert Foundation’s 2022 High School Theatre Festival for NYC Public Schools May 23 at 7:30 PM at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre.
Presented by The Shubert Foundation and the NYC Department of Education Arts Office, the evening, returning to an in-person event following two virtual festivals, will also feature guest presenters Denée Benton (Into the Woods), Antwayn Hooper (A Strange Loop), K. Todd Freeman (The Minutes), Jessica Hecht (The Price), Antwayn Hopper (A Strange Loop), Mateo Lizcano (Dear Evan Hansen), and Nathaniel Stampley (Paradise Square).
The Festival celebrates five outstanding high school student productions from the 2021-2022 school year, selected from more than 20 productions across the city by professional theatre artists and theatre educators. More than 100 NYC public school theatre artists will make their Broadway debuts during the festival, which will feature scenes from Into the Woods, with students from Manhattan's Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts; Indecent, with students from Manhattan's Professional Performing Arts High School; Guys and Dolls, with students from Staten Island's Curtis High School; Rent, with students from Queens' Frank Sinatra School of the Arts; and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, with students from the Brooklyn High School of the Arts.
In addition to performances, The High School Theatre Festival also highlights the positive effects of theatre study on skills for the stage and in life: collaboration, artistry, discipline, focus, literacy, student voice, self-awareness, presence, and empathy. The evening focuses on the impact a full theatre program can have on students and school communities.
“We’ve waited a long time for this moment,” says Shubert Foundation President Diana Phillips. “After two years of outstanding virtual performances, it will be very exciting to see our talented NYC public school students performing live once more on our Broadway stage. Congratulations to them, to director Peter Avery, and to their dedicated teachers for their work and their unflagging commitment to the theatre.”
“The arts are a truly essential component in the education of all our students. I’m thrilled our children will have the opportunity to participate in the truly inspiring New York City tradition of live theatre, experiencing firsthand the transformative power of the arts,” adds New York City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “I want to thank the Shubert Foundation for supporting this event and theatre education in our schools."
“It’s Back to the Future! We celebrate and honor our creative NYC public high school students for their theatrical response but also their resilience in the face of the academic, social, and artistic challenges of the past two years. Theatre in our schools provides a welcoming place for students and audiences to reconnect, to listen, to reflect, to invest, to empathize...to heal. Theatre also entertains!… We feature five outstanding student performances that interweave hope and artistry,” stated Peter Avery, the Festival's producer and the Director of Theater for the NYC Department of Education.
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 $600,000 for 2021-22. Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided more than $7.2 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre and arts education programs.