Educational Theatre Foundation Will Award Grants to High Schools to Produce New Version of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN

Educational Theatre Foundation to award ten $10,000 grants to high schools nationwide with support from The Music Man Foundation and Music Theatre International.

By: Sep. 13, 2023
Educational Theatre Foundation Will Award Grants to High Schools to Produce New Version of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), The Music Man Foundation (TMMF) and Music Theatre International (MTI) announced a special partnership that will give up to ten high schools a unique opportunity to perform the new, revised version of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” ahead of its general release.

Up to ten $10,000 grants funded by TMMF will be made available for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years to be used toward costs associated with the production of the musical. Any accredited high school based in the United State is eligible to apply. Schools interested in applying for the opportunity to produce the new version of the show can apply online now. The deadline for the first round of applications is Oct. 27, 2023, and the announcement of recipients will happen in mid-November. A second deadline for applications will be announced at a later date.

“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” Grant seeks to enhance the capacity of school theatre programs to impact students, educators, and their communities-at-large. Applicants are asked to demonstrate plans to use the show as a tool to engage their school and surrounding population in themes present in the musical, including women’s and immigrants’ rights, community-building, and the civic-minded “share-the-luck spirit” embodied by Molly Brown. A selection committee comprised of members of the three partner organizations will review applications and award the grants in at least two rounds during the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024 for productions in the 2023-24 or 2024-25 school years.

“The Educational Theatre Foundation is proud to champion this new grant opportunity,” said Matt Conover, chair of the foundation. “Using theatre as a means to promote racial equity and spark social activism in underserved populations is a key part of ETF’s mission, and the themes of women’s rights, labor rights, and immigration reform present in Margaret Brown’s story align with that mission. We look forward to seeing the next generation engage with this classic musical in new and empowering ways.”

“The Unsinkable Molly Brown is the rags-to-riches love story of Molly and Leadville Johnny Brown, owners of the richest mine in the U.S. at the turn of the twentieth century. The show features music and lyrics by the incomparable Meredith Willson, and a book and additional lyrics by Tony-nominated author Dick Scanlan (“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Renascence”) based on the original book by Richard Henry Morris. 

Dick Scanlan’s work on updating this classic for new performers and audience members is outstanding,” said John Prignano, MTI’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development and Education. “Timeless numbers from the original, like ‘I Ain't Down Yet’ and ‘I'll Never Say No’ are featured, while ‘He’s My Friend’ has been added from the film along with clever and insightful new lyrics from some of Meredith Willson’s beloved trunk songs. The result is a fantastic new show that resonates today while maintaining the heart and spirit of Willson’s and Morris’ original golden-age masterpiece.”

This revitalized version of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” includes everyone’s favorite songs with a story about Molly as she really was: vibrant, progressive, and ready to fight for the underdog as a champion of women’s rights, labor rights, and immigration reform.

“We’re proud to be part of this project, which will celebrate Meredith Willson’s music and Molly Brown’s civic-mindedness in student productions and on high school campuses across the country,” said Tom Camp, president of The Music Man Foundation, which was founded in Meredith Willson’s honor. “We hope to see a wide range of schools apply for this opportunity – whether these funds could help a school produce its first full-scale musical or enhance a well-established theatre program.”

MTI plans a wider release of the show to all theatrical organizations in 2024, following the awarding of the first round of grants. A free read of the revised script as well as selections from a new cast recording can be found here.

About The Educational Theatre Foundation

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) is the fundraising arm of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). ETF’s mission is to provide all students equitable access to quality theatre education. The Foundation achieves this mission by providing financial support to programs that expand access to and participation in school theatre for underserved and marginalized communities and fund theatre programs' growth and sustainability. 

Visit to learn more about ETF and its parent organization, EdTA. 

About The Music Man Foundation

The Music Man Foundation is named after the Tony-winning musical written by Meredith Willson. Meredith’s widow, Rosemary, started the Foundation in 1998 as the Meredith and Rosemary Willson Charitable Foundation and substantially increased the Foundation’s endowment upon her death in 2010. The Foundation’s mission is to empower organizations using music to catalyze enduring change and to amplify its founders’ musical legacy. Over the last decade, the Foundation has awarded more than $22 million to 80 organizations. In addition to creating “The Music Man,” Meredith Willson wrote the music and lyrics for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and beloved songs “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” and the University of Iowa fight song.

About Music Theatre International

Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world's leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser and orchestrator Don Walker, MTI is a driving force in advancing musical theatre as a vibrant and engaging art form.

MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these musicals to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to over 100,000 professional, community and school theatres in the US and in over 150 countries worldwide.

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