Hunter Bell, Lesli Margherita and More Set for BROADWAY BACK TO SCHOOL Benefit at Feinstein's/54 Below
The third annual Broadway Back to School, benefitting theatre education programs for underserved schools, takes place September 24 at Feinstein's/54 Below. The event, produced by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and the International Thespian Society (ITS), is chaired and hosted by Hunter Bell (pictured, left - [title of show], Found).
This fun-filled, fast-paced evening featuring Broadway stars performing alongside Thespian students is open to all to celebrate the theatre arts and all the young people whose dreams, talent, and energy make theatre possible. It provides the opportunity for ITS alumni and friends to meet the movers and shakers in the theatre education community while supporting a great cause.
"Having the opportunity to experience theatre in school changes lives," said EdTA Executive Director, Julie Cohen Theobald, "and with the help of theatre enthusiasts, we're working to help more students have the experience of feeling accepted, valued, and part of something larger than themselves."
In addition to a cast of all-star Thespian student performers, the show will feature:
Ryan J. Haddad is an actor and writer whose acclaimed solo play Hi, Are You Single? was most recently featured in The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival. He was also featured in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix). ryanjhaddad.com
Chad Kimball is a Tony Nominee for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for creating the role of Huey Calhoun in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Memphis. He is currently on Broadway in Come From Away. He will be joined by his theatre teacher and EdTA Hall of Fame inductee, Ruben Van Kempen, who is currently the director of Troupe 5832 at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington. www.chadkimball.com
Marla Louissaint was the 2015 Jimmy Awards Best Actress. Her Off-Broadway credits include Jamboree (Encores!), God Bless You Mr. Rosewater (Encores!), and TV credit Seven Seconds (Netflix).
Lesli Margherita won the Oliver Award for her role as Inez in Zorro the Musical. Other credits include Matilda the Musical, Dames at Sea, and she created the award-winning role of Signora Psyche Zinobia in A Scythe of Time. Other credits include a starring role in the film Opening Night and Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
John McGinty is an actor whose credits include Fêtes De La Nuit, Veritas, and the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's new play The Healing. His regional credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tribes, and Pippin. He has been in the films Wonderstruck and Sign.
Ana Villafañe is an actress and singer who starred as pop icon Gloria Estefan in the Broadway musical On Your Feet!
The musical performances will be backed by Christine Riley on piano, Dave Anthony on drums, and Greg Chudzik on bass.
The creative team for Broadway Back to School:
Seth Rettberg is an actor, director, and member of the SDCF's 2016-2017 Observership Program. His credits include MSDT's Off-Broadway Alliance Award nominated Standard Time (The Duke on 42nd St), and Charles Busch's Cleopatra, Still At Risk (The Center). As an actor, Seth has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway and on tour with the Tony Award winning Avenue Q.
Christine Riley is a music director, vocal coach, and arranger. Her credits include My Vaudeville Man, Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Moment in Time, Gemini the Musical, The Quiet Clock, Seesaw, Count to Ten, Flight of the Lawnchair Man, and Mud Donahue and Son. Christine was the music director for Shout! The Mod Musical, Edges, Sweet Charity, Rags, Triumph of Love, Wonderland, Realabilities and The Boys From Syracuse.
Production Stage Manager John Conover is a theatrical producer, general manager, and an NYU-Tisch alum. He's worked at Punchdrunk's Sleep No More, Atlantic Theater Company, 101 Productions, Ltd., and the Walt Disney Company. He was part of the 2017 International Thespian Festival Opening Show.
To help raise money and awareness for Broadway Back to School, EdTA is also announcing a theatrical-themed online charity auction. This auction will benefit the event which raises valuable funding to support theatre education across the country. Prizes for the auction have been donated by Playbill, Inc., Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell, Disney Theatrical Group, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Samuel French, Inc., and The Musical Company.
Online bidding will commence Tuesday, September 5 on chartityauctionstoday.com and will continue through midnight September 22. All auction winners will be announced at Broadway Back to School on Sunday, September 24. Bidders need not be present to win.
Sponsors include BookTix, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, The Broadway League, Disney Parks Live Entertainment, Mark Drum, National Theater Institute, The Musical Company, Music Theatre International, PLAYBILLder, Realtime Music Solutions, Samuel French, Tams-Witmark Music Library, Broadway Life: Student Group Travel.
Seating is limited; tickets are available online.