MTI and Latiné Musical Theatre Lab Partner to Create Bilingual Versions of Broadway Junior Musicals

Shrek The Musical JR. will be the first show developed together as part of the new partnership.

By: Sep. 07, 2023
MTI and Latiné Musical Theatre Lab Partner to Create Bilingual Versions of Broadway Junior Musicals
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Theatrical licensor Music Theatre International (MTI) and arts advocacy and development organization Latiné Musical Theatre Lab (LMTL) announced a partnership to create culturally sensitive bilingual versions of MTI’s 30 and 60-minute Broadway Junior® musicals.

Conceived in 1996 by MTI's co-Chairman, Freddie Gershon, Broadway Junior® musicals are author-approved, condensed versions of classic musicals and modern works, custom-tailored to the needs of young people and schools. The music is presented in keys that are appropriate for developing voices and all shows include the materials and production resources necessary to produce a musical regardless of experience level.

The Latiné Musical Theatre Lab, LLC is an organization that develops and advocates for new Latiné-written works of musical theatre in order to radically change who gets to tell musical stories on stages across the country and the world. Formed in November 2021, the Lab supports hundreds of artists each year through its free programs for Latiné writers and its initiatives to promote inclusion for Latiné artists and audiences in the musical theatre industry. 

The partnership between MTI and LMTL will help to create equal opportunities for Spanish-speaking and bilingual students and performers, while expanding accessibility for Spanish-speaking and bilingual households and audiences. In educational settings, students from English-speaking backgrounds will have the opportunity to learn and practice a second language in an immersive environment.

The first show slated for development is DreamWorks TheatricalsShrek The Musical JR., an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure by Tony winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Kimberly Akimbo, Caroline, or Change) and Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning bookwriter and lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire (Kimberly Akimbo, Rabbit Hole). 

In this bilingual world of Shrek JR., all characters speak two languages equally well. And yet as in real life, each character has their own language preference for thinking, speaking, and singing. The actors auditioning for principal characters will choose (based on their linguistic abilities and preferences) the language in which their character primarily works - American English or Latin American Spanish. This will create a bespoke version of the show for each production, where the primary language of each principal character will be based on the actor cast in the role.

All of the new Bilingual Broadway Junior® musicals will come with a ShowKit® of materials in both English and Spanish which include scripts for each actor, a Director’s Guide featuring an introduction of the world of the musical with costume, staging and design tips as well as rehearsal and performance tracks.

“We are enormously thrilled to be working with such an important and impactful organization as Latiné Musical Theatre Lab. And we are also grateful to Dreamworks and authors Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire for their support of this new groundbreaking program,” said MTI’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development and Education, John Prignano. “As we have learned from our new friends at LMTL, representing the bilingual experience onstage can neutralize the alienating, othering effect that speaking a second language can often bring. In performing this version of Shrek JR., primarily Spanish-speaking performers will have the opportunity to explore English in the exact same way that primarily English-speaking performers will have the opportunity to explore Spanish.”

“Revolutionizing the future of musical theatre begins with our youth,” said Ryan Morales Green, Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the Latiné Musical Theatre Lab. “The Lab is committed to creating a world of equity and opportunity for Latiné artists of all ages, and we could not be more excited to partner with MTI on this historic new initiative. Developing Bilingual Broadway Junior® shows and making them accessible to Spanish speaking artists and audiences brings the art form we love directly to more children, families, and communities.”

The announcement of other Bilingual Broadway Junior® musicals as part of this new partnership will be forthcoming.  

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.

MTI is particularly dedicated to educational theatre, and has created special collections to meet the needs of various types of performers and audiences. MTI’s Broadway Junior® shows are 30- and 60-minute musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged performers, while MTI’s School Editions are musicals annotated for performance by high school students.

MTI maintains its global headquarters in New York City with additional offices in London (MTI Europe) and Melbourne (MTI Australasia).

About Latiné Musical Theatre Lab

Founded in November 2021, the Latiné Musical Theatre Lab exists to advocate for new, latine-written works of musical theatre within the musical theatre industry. Through its programs and partnerships, the Lab largely works to develop these new works, while also developing the voices and careers of both up-and-coming and established latine writers. Run by a full staff of latine administrators, producers, and artists, the Lab is working to advocate for the careers of latine artists and admins, as well as develop latine audiences, donors, and supporters of the arts. The goal: a world of equity in the musical theatre community for latine art and artists.