BWW Blog: Abigail Shapiro on 101 DALMATIONS in Newtown, CT
Hello, Broadway World! I'm Abigail Shapiro and I'm so excited to be a Broadway World blogger this month. I'm originally from Tampa, FL, but I moved to New York City with my mom and my sister, Milly, when I got the role of Cindy-Lou in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Milly got the role of Matilda in Matilda, The Musical after our very first Broadway auditions. Both my sister and I are so lucky and grateful to be able to pursue our dreams as performers. And here we are now--I'm actually blogging for BroadwayWorld.com. Wow! And in the same company as some of my Broadway idols, including Andrea McArdle, who I had the chance to perform on stage with recently...but more on that later. Not too long ago, I was a Broadway fanatic pouring through this very website, and so much has happened since then. I am truly honored to be a blogger this month and I hope you enjoy the experiences I share with you over the next couple of weeks.
Last night I took a train to Newtown, Connecticut to see the 12.14 Foundation's production of The 101 Dalmatians Musical. And let me say, this production could be summed up in one word: ADORABLE! I was especially impressed because they literally had 101 kids playing Dalmatians in a cast of 107 people. Not easy. And not only was the cuteness factor high, but these kids had some serious raw talent and a genuine love for performing. One of my favorite moments was the musical number "Be A Little Bit Braver." It was very uplifting to see the entire cast singing their hearts out for such an inspiring cause. Additionally, they altered the character of Cruella DeVil to be a "clean freak," and brought in Kristine Zbornik, a Broadway performer, to play this "germaphobe." She was the only adult in the cast. Not many kids get to perform with a Broadway performer. It was clear that everyone involved was dedicated to the entire production. It also amazed me that the creative team, including director, Michasel Unger, were able to fit more than 101 kids on the stage at once, who were focused, prepared and compelling to watch.
What made it even more special was the fact that around half of the cast came from Sandy Hook Elementary School. 12.14's mission is to build a Performing Arts Centre in Newtown, Connecticut in memory of the people killed in the Newtown school shooting on December 14, 2012. Since the tragedy that occurred in 2012, the community has been striving to heal and have done so in large part thanks to many performing arts-related activities such as the benefit concert, From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook, which featured over 100 Broadway performers, along with a 40-piece orchestra and 350 children for the Newtown community. This concert was produced by Van Dean, a team of Broadway producers and countless volunteers, directed by Michael Unger (the same director as 101 Dalmatians) and music directed by Jeff Saver (the same MD as 101 Dalmatians). Also, a fantastic production of "Seussical The Musical," was put on last year by the 12.14 Foundation . The organization has also brought in Broadway performers to visit Sandy Hook Elementary School and mentor the kids. I will always remember my visit with Milly in May, learning so much and being able to raise everyone's spirits. I never really realized how generous a community could be, and this theatrical community has supported the Sandy Hook Elementary dramatically.
This production of 101 Dalmatians couldn't have been cuter! I loved it so much. I hoped you had a pleasure in reading my first Broadway world blog. Thank you to BroadwayWorld.com and everyone who made this happen! "I couldn't be happier!" (Quoting Wicked, one of my favorite musicals) I'm so appreciative, and I can't wait for my next blog!