Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

BroadwayWorld is following along as Passport to Broadway does student workshops in China! Tune in for daily photos, videos, and more! In today's LIVE video, watch the students rehearse Facade!

Perspective of the Music Director - Seth Weinstein
Blog #1- June 18, 2017


Two days after Typhoon Merbok descended on Guangdong province, three theatre professionals from New York descended on the American International School of Guangzhou to begin a ten-day intensive program for twenty-nine students from the fourth to the twelfth grade. In our first three days, we cast each participant and taught all the music and half the staging and choreography for our hour-long show. Much like the rain, our pace was strong and driving, and much like the ninety-degree temperatures, our energy was high and sweat-inducing.

Our team consists of StudentsLive founder and director Amy Weinstein, musical director Seth Weinstein (no relation), and choreographer Jeff Moulton. We're staying at a hotel in the leafy Science City area of Guangzhou, amidst parks and greenways, where we fall asleep to the lull of bullfrogs and awaken to a bountiful breakfast buffet that includes dim sum, conch and octopus salads, and a create-your-own-noodle-soup station.

The program began the day after school let out for the summer. When we all met, Amy asked the students why they had joined the program and what they hoped to achieve during our time together. "I want to be a part of something exciting." "I want to be on Broadway someday." "I like dancing and acting, but I don't like singing so much." (He's coming around.)

Our quick teaching methods are designed to evoke the focus and commitment required of Broadway actors. The pace was a bit of a jolt for the students, who erupted in a frenzy of chat messaging after our first day. "Do we have to wear the T-shirt and pants?" "Will the bus be in the same place tomorrow?" "I can't find the recordings on my phone." ("Look harder!" replied the school's tech guru, who had helped to load each cast member's individual voice parts onto his or her listening device.)

The students are highly motivated and soon adapted to our process. We rehearse for nine hours a day and then expect the students to practice at night. Having realized the urgency of putting on a show in ten days, they arrive before our 8:15 a.m. warmups to practice, they help each other find their places, they keep dancing while waiting for their rides, and-ever technologically inclined-they film Jeff's movements on their phones for home review. They're a polite, respectful bunch with excellent English skills. A few are a bit shy onstage, but they're working to overcome that and become bold actors with big voices.

Our performance is in just one week. We're confident that it will be a success and that we will all learn from the process-students and teachers alike.

Perspective of the Head of Visual and Performing Arts at AISG - Betty Lin
Blog #1- June 18, 2017

What an amazing experience personally, professionally, and for our students! This is Day Three of the ten-day intensive summer program with Students Live, Passport to Broadway. It is such a pleasure to see professionals Amy Weinstein, Seth Weinstein, and Jeff Moulton working with our students and for me to hone my skills in directing through personal involvement and observations.


I couldn't be prouder of our students. Initially it was a very steep learning curve for them especially when they need to learn such a lot of materials (singing, acting and dancing) in such a short time. Today, I see real progress and also see some of the students growing in confidence in their roles. There were times in the rehearsals when I felt the musical coming together.


I can't wait to see what the next stage looks like. I think this is the beginning of a monumental journey for all of us participating at school. It will definitely be one of the experiences the students will remember for the rest of their lives!


Betty Lin
Head of Visual and Performing Arts
AISGZ faculty

Perspective of the Student Assistant Director - Gloria Huang
Blog #1- June 18, 2017


On June 16th, three musical theatre professionals- Amy Weinstein (Artistic Director), Seth Weinstein (Music Director), and Jeff Moulton (Choreographer) - arrived at the American International School of Guangzhou (AISG) and took 29 current AISG students on a Broadway journey that they've never experienced before. After a year of hard work, this team of professionals rearranged 30-40 Broadway musical show tunes and created a brand new musical that will have its first debut at AISG in China.

In order to give the students an experience of how professionals work on Broadway, the students were treated with the same level of rigor and professionalism. On the first day of the program, students auditioned for which roles they would play. As most students are in elementary or middle school, many of them have never taken part in an audition or ever asked to learn things quickly. As a result, the audition process seemed to be a challenge for many students. Through viewing the audition at the casting table, it is noticed that some students are very nervous or shy, and many of them were unable to complete the choreographed routine taught in a short amount of time. Nevertheless, the students survived the audition process and in fact, some auditions went incredibly well, surprising us at the casting table.

After the audition process, students learned the choreography and staging of the numbers in the musical. At the end of the day, when the students were asked about how their day went, most of them said that it was really hard and tiring, but they still enjoyed it nonetheless. Students reacted this way most likely because they were treated by the professionals the way how working actors would be treated working on Broadway. This gave students a realistic simulation of working on Broadway. Even though it was hard, students still enjoyed it because they have a natural passion for musical theatre and the performing arts in general. Students also know that this experience is beneficial for them because, by the end of the program, students will be able to improve their artistic skills, inspire or encourage them to follow their passion for the performing arts, and overall, become a better person.

By the third day (June 18, today), students have started to get used to the high levels of expectations and great improvement can be seen in every single student. Today, we finally finished running through Act 1, meaning that we are half way through. The entire team and the students look forward to the final finished product and the final performance in just one week. It's going to be very exciting!

Perspective of a Student - Zoe Cheng
Blog #1- June 18, 2017

It was a long and eventful day. Did I find an American penny in China? Uh... no, nor did the Hamilton cast suddenly appear in front of our school one day (one day, one day...). No, it was Passport to Broadway. Yes, Passport to Broadway happened. This is a pretty big deal. Don't know what Passport to Broadway is? Well, what kind of rock are you living under? This is a Broadway education program where we have 10 days to rehearse before putting on the most unique, expressive, and moving show you've ever seen. Special thanks to Betty Lin, Amy Weinstein, Seth Weinstein and Jeff Moulton. Seriously, if you happen to see one of these folks, tell them that they are awesome. Because they are.

Also, come and watch our show, it's called "One Moment". It's on June 25th and it's going to be great.

Ok, here's life lesson number one:

Quoting my mom, "If you never tried something, do not criticize or see it less than what it really is."


I did not see Broadway as any less than anything, because first of all, why would you do that? Second of all, actors and actresses work extremely hard to get a part on a show, to underestimate that is just like saying evolution doesn't exist.


But I did not expect to learn all of the choreography in lightning speed. It was so fast that our crew could put the Flash to shame. Oh no, this isn't just any flimsy, low budget play you play around with, this is the real deal.


Life lesson two: practice makes perfect. This is pretty self-explanatory. The "Just Do It" Shia LaBeouf meme applies very well here.


Amy, our director, Seth, our music director and Jeff, our choreographer, are so passionate about musical theatre that it is infectious.


Well, we got 7 days before the finale, may hard work and perseverance aid us to put on an excellent show, and may all of us break a leg.

Perspective of the Music Director - Seth Weinstein
Blog #2- June 20, 2017



Thanks to Amy's Omelet, the students began to act and sing with intent.

Amy requested only egg whites, but before she knew it the breakfast staff were frying up the yolks. The incident was still on her mind when we began our rehearsal yesterday.

The students had been singing like choir members, with lovely, angelic voices and no guts. Singing is just heightened speech, we told them. Conveying the meaning and passion of the lyrics is more important than getting the notes right or sounding pure.

To illustrate this, Amy and I improvised a cantata describing her morning. The saga of the egg was dramatized first with limp voices and then with theatrical voices. The exercise made an impression.

"It was a small event, but it meant the world to me at the moment," Amy told our cast. "You need to sing and act everything like it's a life-or-death situation." Every step onstage, even a simple entrance or exit, has purpose. Every glance is a reaction to something and causes its own reaction. Even counting the choreography beats should be done with attitude.

Little by little, the small moments in our show began to come to life. For students used to learning things to get them correct, rather than learning things to develop a character, this was a challenge. They know the goal, but carrying it out is not yet intuitive; they have to trust that we'd rather they tell the story than focus on getting the moves right. They must realize that they cease to be students and instead become characters who are free to love, yearn, and be aggressive or silly.

Sustaining a character's energy can be difficult at the end of a long day of rehearsal. "This is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's the most exciting," one student commented. "This is exhausting," said another.

Yet they are rising to the high standard admirably. They continue to practice at night, during lunch breaks, and before rehearsals if they arrive early. The murmur that follows a work-through of a section of choreography is a discussion of the matter at hand rather than idle chitchat.

After five days, we've finished teaching the music and staging and had one run-through. It's a relief to experience the scope of the show, and now we can begin to color it in.

Perspective of the Head of Visual and Performing Arts at AISG - Betty Lin
Blog #2- June 20, 2017

Day 5! It's half way through the intensive course! Performance looming in the same number of days! Wow! I can't believe the kids have learnt the choreography and all the songs. Now we can concentrate on making the whole show even better. What have been the best moments for me so far were when I saw times of great learning akin to the 'light bulb "aha" moments' on the faces of the students. It has been so beautiful to see glimpses of the transformation of some students from quiet and reserve to confident, eager, and engaged!

Tonight, after the students went home, we got into the theater to do some lights cue to cue. It was so exciting to be looking at the stage awash with different colors and to imagine the students performing on it. I can't wait for the practice to start on stage, so that the students can feel the full impact of the stage which will aid their motivation to perform better!

Betty Lin
Head of Visual and Performing Arts
AISGZ faculty

Perspective of the Student Assistant Director - Gloria Huang
Blog #2- June 20, 2017



It's day 5 already! As we arrived at the halfway point, the students finally finished learning the entire 1-hour musical. For the past two days, the students have been focusing on learning an incredible amount of choreography and staging for Act 2. Act 2, unlike Act 1, requires a lot of props. As a result, it is important that I make sure that the right amount of props are on each side of the stage, and it is also entertaining to watch the students frantically rush around trying to grab their props while trying to go back on stage in time. At one point of the show, students have to use these long white poles in a number. As it was their first time using props for the number, students were trying so hard to look for the poles even though it was in front of them the whole time, just merely blended in with the white walls so that the students couldn't see it. By the time the students found the poles and grabbed them, they realized that they have already missed their cues. However, like most things, the students got better with handling their props and going back on stage on time.

Today, we did our first run through. Most students gave a lot of their heart and energy in their performance. There were several moments during the run through that were very moving. All of the audiences (the teachers and staff) were touched. No doubt, in the next five days, the students will put on a show that will touch every person in the theatre.

Perspective of a Student - Zoe Cheng
Blog #2- June 20, 2017


You know we sing "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" as a part of our story, right? And in that scene, we have Rose, Alanis, Miley and Barack sitting around the one and only Maria Von Trapp, squeezing pillows with the childish excitement that we all haven't felt in years of our angsty, teenage and adult lives.

Ms. Amy: ok, now then pillow girls need to toss the pillows for the next dance move.
Barack: PILLOW GIRLS!?

You can tell it was a productive day.

What else was great... oh yeah, I got re-casted as Trunchbull.

"Why isn't Cody Trunchbull? It's what the script says."

Let me tell you, Cody is a pure, small, adorable, youthful child who has more advantage in "Revolting Children" than a terrible teenager like me.

Which makes me the perfect Trunchbull.

Don't get me wrong, I have to put on a "good kid" facade 24/7, this is my sole chance to scream at my fellow cast members. This, this is my sole chance to watch them wither at my words as they are helplessly squirming in my grasp.

Except they revolt.
And I get squeamish when I hurt someone.

But that doesn't matter, I pulled it off overnight, it was hard but it was worth every single moment.

Also, you know the "Wicked" touring international cast is here? And they are going to visit us? Hello excuse me, I sang "For Good" in choir last year, and I still tear up when I hear the song. Please notice me.

Today, Ms. Amy talked about what we discovered about our characters, Diana realized she is a sharp-tongued character with no filter, and she's not sorry. Peter finally realized that his character is actually a malicious person, justifying himself cheating on Kim because she has a dream to follow. What happens next? Well I don't know, watch it yourself, come to our show!

We still have a long way to go, we need to refine our lyrics, dance moves and placing. But I have faith in my fellow cast members. If a professional procrastinator like me can get their head into the game, then so can they.

high res photos

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

Guest Blog: Passport to China Days 1 & 2

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