Retreat to Broadway Launches Arts Education Initiative Focused on HAIRSPRAY

By: Nov. 16, 2016

Retreat to Broadway, a national non-profit project that pairs innovative programming with live theater, is launching their first national arts education initiative and they're focusing on the Tony Award-winning musical HAIRSPRAY. Not only does Retreat to Broadway want to help increase viewership for NBC's national telecast of HAIRSPRAY LIVE! on December 7, but they also want to provide a unique framework to discuss the important themes HAIRSPRAY presents its audiences: celebrating differences, cultural diversity, bullying, body shaming, 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 HAIRSPRAY. More than 20 writers, educators, actors, drama teachers and consultants from across the country and Canada have submitted lesson plans, games, 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 on December 7; rather, it's a standalone document that can be used at any time by anyone in any location. They will be available for a $10 donation, and the guides will be distributed as electronic PDF documents starting November 23 (two weeks prior to NBC's live telecast).

In addition to the $10 Resource Guides, Retreat to Broadway's Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign also includes the following Broadway-related perks at higher donation levels: dinner for two with HAIRSPRAY LIVE! Associate Director Ioana Alfonso (WICKED, 9 TO 5), two tickets to a Broadway show with dinner for two, hair styling by Broadway actor and stylist, Marty Thomas (WICKED, XANADU, THE SECRET GARDEN), personally autographed Playbills and show card from Kristin Chenoweth (MY LOVE LETTER TO BROADWAY), House Seats to WICKED with backstage tour, Audition Boot Camp Skype coachings with Kathy Deitch (FOOTLOOSE, WICKED) and dinner for two with a Tracy Turnblad from HAIRSPRAY on Broadway, Kathy Brier (HAIRSPRAY, ONE LIFE TO LIVE).

Retreat to Broadway also launched a Social Media Campaign that's inviting all theater fans to share what Arts Education and HAIRSPRAY mean to them. Using either hashtag, #ArtsEducationIs or #HairsprayIs, people are invited to write a word or phrase that either arts education or HAIRSPRAY mean to them, take a photo with their sign and then post the picture on social media with the additional hashtag, #RTBhairspray. Broadway stars Kristin Chenoweth, Stephanie J. Block and Kathy Deitch 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, states, "The timing could not be more ideal for a live telecast of HAIRSPRAY, especially given the state of our nation. Since the signs of the times are currently confusing and divisive, let's hope Tracy Turnblad can remind all of us that mutual respect, racial justice and peaceful dialogue are necessary values to achieve the American Dream. I hope HAIRSPRAY LIVE! will help strengthen the word 'United' in USA." Retreat to Broadway Speakers Bureau member, Douglas Lyons (BEAUTIFUL), added, "'HAIRSPRAY has proven to me that the American Theatre can swallow the pill of racial issues when it's on a comedic platter. We should pay attention to how this show brings us together - that's what theater should do. That's why we all connect to it even when we don't connect to each other."

The affiliated Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign directly benefits Retreat to Broadway. 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 10 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 happy to report we've provided financial assistance to 62 people over the past three years."

For more information about how to donate and purchase HAIRSPRAY Resource Guides, click here.

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