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David Auburn, Rick Younger Celebrate Rising Voices For LEAP Benefit

David Auburn, Rick Younger Celebrate Rising Voices For LEAP Benefit Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn ("Proof") will provide opening remarks and Rick Younger, featured actor in "Mean Girls," nominated for 12 Tony Awards, will introduce fellow Broadway performers in a celebration of student playwriting called LEAP OnStage: Rising Voices. The fundraiser will be held Monday, May 21, 6-9 pm, in the event space of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, 226 W. 44th Street. Proceeds will benefit LEAP (Learning through an Expanded Arts Program), an arts education organization that serves more than 20,000 students in 175 schools throughout New York City each year. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and can be purchased at

The special benefit evening will feature performances by Geno Carr ("Come From Away"), Yassmin Alers ("On Your Feet," "Rent"), Tyson Jennette ("The Book of Mormon"), Danny Bolero and Jeffrey Nunez ("In the Heights"), Brad Bass ("Memphis," "Wicked"), Tanesha Gary ("Caroline, or Change"), Jessica Frances Dukes ("Bootycandy"), and Chloe Davis and Timothy Edwards (TV's "Jesus Christ Superstar"). Video appearances will be made by John Cariani and Kristin Sieh from "The Band's Visit," and Q. Smith of "Come from Away." LEAP alumni Benné McCants and Keith Thompson join the cast as well. Students from The Dock Street School for STEAM Studies in Brooklyn will open the evening with a thrilling portion of "The Movement," a historically based a capella musical by Kathy D. Harrison that documents the true story of the Children's Crusade of 1963. Students from The Young Women's Leadership School of Astoria will perform alongside Broadway actors.

LEAP OnStage: Rising Voices celebrates the work of middle and high school students who created 10-minute plays through LEAP OnStage, a year-long artist residency and immersion into playwriting and performance.

Featured student playwrights include Nadia Butler ("Life After Death"), Joseph Diaz ("Trish Brooks"), Elissa Elgizooli ("Till Dawn Do Us Part"), Michelle Morales ("It Will Come to Pass"), and Adriana Reyes ("Too Close to Home").

LEAP OnStage reaches more than 700 students in 12 schools each year. One winning play per school is chosen to be published in an annual anthology by Samuel French, Inc. and performed by their peers in a professional venue in late May.

"We are deeply honored to have Broadway celebrate LEAP," says Rich Souto, executive director. "These performers and playwrights share our passion in supporting our young artists. We firmly believe that all students should have access to the arts and be the rising creative contributors to the exciting arts community of New York and beyond."

LEAP provides quality educational arts programs to promote access and equity for New York City students underserved in the arts. Through artistic inquiry and expression, LEAP inspires diverse school communities to be more engaged in learning and build their creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills.

LEAP OnStage is made possible by the generous support of the Applebaum Foundation, Richenthal Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Ted Snowdon Foundation, and Michael Tuch Foundation. The program is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Major sponsors of LEAP OnStage: Rising Voices include Macquarie Group Foundation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Goodwin, and Time Warner, Inc. Samuel French, Inc. is a valued partner in the LEAP OnStage program.

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