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Newark Students to Perform at NJPAC Next Week with Help from Disney

On February 8, more than 170 elementary students from Greater Newark will have the extraordinary opportunity to sing and dance on NJPAC's world-class Prudential Hall stage as the result of a $100,000 grant awarded to the Arts Center last year by Disney.

The grant from Disney enables the Arts Center to offer the Disney Musicals in Schools program to five schools in Greater Newark. Through the program, participating schools produce a Disney KIDS musical in their school community and join in a culminating performance at NJPAC. The participating schools are Branch Brook School, Luis Muñoz Marin School and Mount Vernon School, all in Newark; Rosa Parks Community School in Orange, and John Marshall School No. 20 in Elizabeth.

"In this inaugural year of the Disney Musicals in Schools we have seen the growth of five different school communities," says Alison Scott-Williams, NJPAC's Vice President of Arts Education. "Each musical production has been able to galvanize school resources, creating costuming teams and set design teams in support of this performance."

During the 17-week residency at the schools, students worked collaboratively - developing self-confidence and strengthening communication skills - all while learning and discovering the joy of creating a musical theater production. Performance rights, educational support materials and guidance from NJPAC teaching artists were provided at no cost. The program will culminate in performances at the school of a 30-minute version of a Disney musical created just for elementary schools, and a Student Share Celebration at NJPAC, where each school will present a selection from its show. Three of the schools chose The Lion King KIDS and the remaining two Aladdin KIDS.

"It is our hope that these performances will continue in the years to come so that more third- through fifth-graders can experience the magic of creating a show from beginning to the final bow," adds Scott-Williams.

Disney Musicals in Schools is a program of Disney Theatrical Group, and was launched in response to a concern that economically disadvantaged students in urban public schools do not have equal access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with organizations in other communities across the country. The $100,000 grant awarded to NJPAC will support two years of programming and another five schools will be announced later this year.

Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theatre International (MTI), are about 30 minutes in length and have been adapted from such classic Disney films as 101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, and Winnie the Pooh.

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