Susan Stroman, Joanna Gleason & More Teach Masterclasses at Open Jar Institute's 10th Anniversary Today

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New York's Broadway musical theatre training institute - The Open Jar Institute - is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary of providing high school and college students the opportunity to work one-on-one with Broadway's best professionals during a special master class with Susan Stroman today, August 2nd at The Pearl Theatre (555. W. 42nd Street) at 2:30pm.

Each year a select group of 60 students are chosen to spend a week in New York City working in musical theatre master classes and workshops taught exclusively by Broadway's best professionals - directors, choreographers, performers, casting directors and agents.

This summer the students of The Open Jar Institute will work one-on-one with a remarkable group of Broadway professionals, including: Five Time Tony Award Winning Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Contact, The Scottsboro Boys), legendary composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago), Tony Award Winning Actress Joanna Gleason (Into The Woods), Tony Winner Karen Ziemba (Contact), Tony nominee David Thompson (Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys), Casting Associates from Tara Rubin Casting, casting director Bob Cline, director/choreographer James Gray (A Christmas Story), director/choreographer Jeff Whiting (Big Fish, Bullets Over Broadway, The Scottsboro Boys), Stacia Fernandez (Mamma Mia!), Thayne Jasperson(Newsies, Matilda, So You Think You Can Dance), Robert Hartwell (Cinderella, Nice Work If You Can Get It), Andrew Fitch (Pippin), Joshua Buscher (Big Fish, Priscilla, West Side Story), Tina Marie Casamento (Chasing Rainbows), Michael Goddard (CGF Talent), Joseph Mitchell Parks (Acting Co.), Jay Rhoderick(Urinetown), Eric Santagata (Chaplin), Scott Taylor (Aladdin, Spamalot), and many others.

"We audition in over 30 cities across the US/Canada and select 60 incredible students to participate in our week-long intensive," says Jeff Whiting, founder and Artistic Director of The Open Jar Institute. "It's important that we bring together a group of students who are truly hungry for this experience because these students are spending a week learning from Broadway's best."

"We are very proud of our Alumni - the next generation of artists - who are already working on Broadway, National Tours, and who are doing wonderfully well in the business." Whiting adds, "That's the primary reason I started The Open Jar Institute - I wanted to connect ambitious students with successful professionals in the business in order to help them better prepare for this very competitive business."

When asked about the name of the institute, which was founded in 2003, Whiting says, "I got the name 'Open Jar Institute' from a study I once read about fleas placed in a jar: A group of researchers took a group of fleas, put them in a jar and closed the lid. The fleas, which have a high capacity to jump, kept hitting the lid of the jar as they jumped. After a few days, the fleas learned the limitation of where the lid was and began jumping just below the height of the lid. A week later, the researchers took off the lid of the jar. The fleas continued to jump at the adjusted height, and although the jar was now open, they never jumped out of the jar.

"Like those fleas in the OPEN JAR, so do we, as artists often adjust to the limitation that others set for us. We sometimes stop doing our very best - even when there are no limitations - and we never find what we were meant to achieve. At The Open Jar Institute, we believe that the 'lid is off' - the possibilities endless - and in this business there is no room for limits."

The Open Jar Institute provides over $15,000 of scholarships annually to students across the country. Whiting says, "Every year in our audition tour we come across so many wonderfully talented young people who would benefit greatly from The Open Jar Institute but because of financial constraints they are unable to attend the summer institute. We are so thrilled to provide this unique opportunity to so many who couldn't otherwise participate."

Actor John West says, "If you want to be a step ahead of the game this is absolutely the place to go because you're getting a type of training that you're not going to get anywhere else in the country."

Alumni student Jeffrey Zicker, currently in the National Tour of Shrek says, "Open Jar Institute is the absolute opportunity of a lifetime. To come to New York City and to be able to work towards doing the thing you love the most and want to do for the rest of your life is the greatest thing I could imagine."

Jeff Whiting is a Director/Choreographer/Associate Director whose Broadway credits include THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, HAIR, WICKED (5th Anniv.), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, plus the upcoming BIG FISH and BULLETS OVER BROADWAY. National Tours: HAIRSPRAY, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE PRODUCERS, THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS. New York: James Taylor LIVE (Carnegie Hall), HONORING Susan Stroman (Hudson), HAPPINESS (Lincoln Center), WE OPEN IN PARIS (Glimmerglass Opera), TARANTELLA. International: JERSEY BOYS (West End), HAIRSPRAY (Brazil). Disney: Mickey Mouse CLUB (India), POWER RANGERS (Brazil), 100 YEARS OF MAGIC (Brazil), PARADE OF MAGICAL MOMENTS (Brazil). jeffwhiting.net

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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