BWW Feature: BROADWAY UNPLUGGED and fall registration at Orbit Arts Academy
Orbit Arts Academy has been open less than five years and has already risen above most theatre based organizations in the metro-Atlanta area. The arts education nonprofit, founded by Broadway veteran Anthony Galde and director Chris Hall, specializes in training for all ages with focuses in dance, acting on stage and on camera, musical theatre and even college prep for those set on a degree in the performing arts.
The academy also hosts week long programs and masterclasses, while hosting shows throughout the year. Currently, the organization is starting up their fall classes, which is in line with the school year. Classes including acting classes for all ages, musical theatre dance and production.
Over the summer, Orbit hosted two back-to-back week-long intensives with one performance at the end of the two-week period. The following night, the organization kept the celebration going with their annual BROADWAY UNPLUGGED event.
Being my first time at an Orbit event, I was overwhelmed (in the best possible way). I walked into a VIP reception where Broadway celebs like Ryann Redmond, Ben Cameron, and Nick Adams gathered for autographs and photos. I even got a photo with Kyle Dean Massey! (Yes, I did fangirl some.)
In the main lobby, at least 20 auction items glistened from signed Playbills and posters to season passes to themed baskets for shows like "Wicked" and "Hamilton." Then during the event, "Bandstand" and "Dear Evan Hansen" tickets were auctioned off - talk about hot tickets (especially since DEH tickets are nearly impossible to snag)!
Oh, and there was also a live show hosted by Cameron ("Broadway Sessions," Playbill's "The Broadway Cast" podcast, original Broadway cast of "Wicked"). He opened up the show with a flock of kids which was followed by some amazing numbers. Adams performed a "Dancing Through Life/Somewhere Over the Rainbow" mashup while Atlanta natives Redmond and Sarah Stipe singing "River Deep, Mountain High." Capathia Jenkins brought the house down with all the belting that you need and then some. Brad Bass sharing songs from his musical in progress "The Collins Boy" that students had actually workshopped a few weeks prior.
Massey sang "You Will Be Found" with all of the Orbit Academy students. If you have seen "Dear Evan Hansen" (or listened to its soundtrack), you know how powerful that one song can be. Just imagine hearing the next generation of professional performers, directors, writers and theatre loving adults singing this number with their idol. Can you even begin to imagine how powerful that was?
More specifically, imagine a young girl named Catherine Roddey stepping up to sing the ending of the song with Massey. She holds her own but is clearly overcome with excitement as she shares center stage with a Broadway star. She sings wonderfully as she nervously glances over at Massey who puts his arm around her while Roddey is beaming.
It is this kind of moment that changes the lives of those on stage. It is this moment that Orbit is able to give kids, which inspires the young artists more than anything. It is with that contact and networking that allows students that extra driving force.
It is that moment where arts education that really makes a difference in children. It teaches the next generation the power of believing in the impossible, the power of humility and the power of expression in an environment that is accepting and nurturing. This is what our future needs, and I thank Orbit Arts Academy for being that place.