Celia Keenan-Bolger and Chita Rivera Will Headline BROADWAY BACK TO SCHOOL Gala
Keenan-Bolger, who is the 2019 Tony Award winner for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role for her portrayal of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, has also won three Drama Desk Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award during her career.
Chita Rivera is a theatrical icon and one of Broadway's greatest triple-threat talents. She is a two-time Tony Award winner who also received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Broadway Back to School is the only event where professional artists not only share their talents, they also share behind-the-scenes stories of how they got their high school starts, as inspiring as the high school Thespians with whom they'll perform. (Thespians are members of the International Thespian Society, the honor organization for middle and high school theatre students, with 2.4 million alums, currently celebrating its 90th anniversary.)
Keenan-Bolger's co-host is Thespian alum Brannon Evans of Omaha, Nebraska. As a high school senior, Evans won the 2019 International Thespian Society Democracyworks essay contest, writing about how performing in To Kill a Mockingbird in her school impacted and inspired her. When the Broadway company of To Kill a Mockingbird staged a reading at the Library of Congress for D.C.-area Thespians for Theatre in Our Schools Month, Evans was on-hand and read her essay to them, earning an opportunity to join in the staged reading with the Broadway cast, as well as a $10,000 scholarship from the production.-
Other Broadway Back to School featured performers (at release time) include: Will Pullen, currently playing Jem in Broadway's To Kill a Mockingbird, who will perform a scene written by a Thespian student writer; Drama Desk Award nominee Evan Rugierro, an amazing tapper who lost a leg to cancer while in college but has continued to do what he loves; Alex Stone, Thespian alum and recent graduate of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music; and J. Harrison Ghee, from Broadway's Kinky Boots, who will be appearing as Crystal Demure.
A highlight of the evening is the presentation of the Broadway Back to School Award to honorees Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman in recognition of their leadership in building access and excellence in school theatre. They were among the first creative leaders in the theatrical industry to recognize that the involvement of young students in musical theatre was essential for their success in school and life as well as for the progress and growth of the industry.
In its fifth year, Broadway Back to School, taking place September 22 at 6:30 p.m., is moving from the intimate Feinstein's/54 Below to the more spacious Edison Ballroom. Key in leading the event's growth are the host committee, headed by Hunter Bell, Tony-nominated playwright and vice chair of the ETF National Board of Trustees, and Kim Rogers, Concord Theatricals vice president of amateur licensing and member of the ETF National Board of Trustees.
The production team for 2019 Broadway Back to School is led by: Artistic Director/Concept, J. Jason Daunter, Broadway's To Kill a Mockingbird and the upcoming West Side Story; Creative Producer, Matt Conover, chair of the ETF National Board of Trustees; Musical Direction, Christine Riley; Musical Arrangements, P. Jason Yarcho; and Line Producer, Hans Weichhart.
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