Retreat To Broadway Launches National Arts Education Initiative Focused On RENT

Retreat To Broadway Launches National Arts Education Initiative Focused On RENT

Retreat to Broadway, a national non-profit project that pairs innovative programming with live theater, is launching their second national arts education initiative focused on the groundbreaking musical, RENT. Not only does Retreat to Broadway want to help increase viewership for Fox's national telecast of "RENT Live!" on January 27, but they also want to provide a unique framework to discuss the important themes RENT presents its audiences: celebrating differences, empathy, cultural diversity, addiction, mindfulness, conflict resolution, acceptance of self and others, etc.

A one-of-a-kind Arts Education Resource Guide is currently being developed by Retreat to Broadway that's intended as a companion piece for RENT. More than 15 writers, educators, actors, drama teachers and consultants from across the country and Canada have submitted lesson plans, activities, curriculum, discussion questions and watch party ideas. It's an ideal resource for any family, school, individual, neighborhood, drama club, youth group, book club and musical theater fan. The Resource Guide does not have to be utilized just on January 27; rather, it's a standalone document that can be used at any time by anyone in any location. The guides will be available for a $10 donation, and they will be distributed via electronic .pdf documents starting January 14 (two weeks prior to NBC's live telecast).

In addition to the $10 Resource Guides, Retreat to Broadway's crowdfunding campaign also includes unique Broadway-related perks at different donation levels. Some other donor rewards include: The Cher Show Playbills autographed by Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anything Goes, 9 to 5, The Pirate Queen, The Boy from Oz, Wicked), House Seats and Backstage Tours to Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked on Broadway, Audition Boot Camp Skype coachings with Kathy Deitch (Footloose, Wicked), haircuts by Broadway actor and stylist, Marty Thomas (Wicked, Xanadu, The Secret Garden) and sharing "Wine & Beer!" (or Coffee & Tea!) in NYC with Broadway multi-hyphenate, Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Be More Chill).

Retreat to Broadway recently announced a Social Media Campaign that's inviting all theater fans to share what Arts Education and RENT mean to them. Using either hashtag, #ArtsEducationIs or #RENTis, people are invited to write a word or phrase that either arts education or RENT mean to them, take a photo with their sign and then post the picture on social media with the additional hashtag, #RetreatToBroadway. Individuals can also record a short video testimony doing the same. Broadway stars Stephanie J. Block, Douglas Lyons and Marty Thomas have already joined the campaign photo fun, and we encourage our readers to do the same.

In a statement, Retreat to Broadway's Director and Founder, Brian Reavey, says, "Even though we're currently celebrating the 20th anniversary national touring company of RENT, the message of this life-changing musical is just as timely today as it was over two decades ago at its inception. Jonathan Larson's brilliant writing and transformative messages of inclusion, diversity, acceptance and love are needed more now than ever. I hope the RENT Live telecast will strengthen our country's foundation built on differences, innovation, creativity, dialogue and individual talents joining together for communal, collective impact." Douglas Lyons, who currently stars in Beautiful: the Carole King Musical on Broadway, writes, "RENT was everything to me. Not only onstage, but offstage. I was a baby in the cast but found myself growing up quickly. RENT taught me that sexuality is a spectrum, and love is defined by what you feel within, not from the rules you're given. Singing that music still gives me chills to this day. I made life-long friends on that tour who I still keep in touch with 13 years later." Kathy Deitch, who made her Los Angeles acting debut in RENT back in 2010, said, "RENT at the Hollywood Bowl was bananas! 18,000 people in the audience and it sold out every night. Singing words like, 'Will I lose my dignity?' and 'No day but today' was incredible. Those themes are real for everybody. The legacy the Larson family has created in the wake of their son's death has been extraordinary. Doing the show was really moving and singing, 'Seasons of Love' and really 'get it' on a whole other level was really powerful. It's a joyous, beautiful musical and I'm really excited to see the RENT Live telecast."

The crowdfunding campaign directly benefits Retreat to Broadway and performing arts programs in underserved communities. Their four program categories (Educational, Professional, Social & Spiritual) provide unique experiences of inspiration, renewal and transformation for any audience of any size, age or location. Program participants have access to their exclusive Retreat to Broadway Speakers Bureau, a group of 11 pre-approved theater professionals who are available to speak privately to retreat groups. All campaign proceeds will help resource guide distribution, future Retreat to Broadway programs and their scholarship program that assists retreat participants who experience financial hardship. Says Reavey, "We never want a lack of money to equate a lack of programming or live theater, and I'm ecstatic to report we've provided financial assistance to 234 people over the past five years." In addition, Retreat to Broadway made a firm commitment to allocate 25% of their crowdfunding proceeds to provide their programming to a deserving non-profit arts organization in an underserved community. They have chosen Sprout U School of the Arts in Trenton, NJ. Sprout U engages children from infancy to sixth grade in joyful, meaningful and creative learning through adventurous, theme-based and experiential curriculum.

For more information about how to make a tax-deductible donation and purchase a RENT Resource Guide, click here: goo.gl/E6QWrW.

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