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Walnut Hosts Disney Musicals In Schools Performance Starring Local Students

Walnut Hosts Disney Musicals In Schools Performance Starring Local Students

The Walnut Street Theatre brings the Student Share Celebration Disney Musicals in Schools event to its mainstage on Friday, May 24th at 12 p.m. Five local elementary schools will perform a selection from their Disney KIDS musical for friends and family, made possible through this special partnership between Disney Theatrical Group and Walnut Street Theatre.

Disney Musicals in Schools (DMIS) is a free initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create sustainable theatre programs in under-resourced elementary schools. This past September the Walnut Street Theatre was awarded a grant from Disney to bring two years of Disney Musicals in Schools programming to the Philadelphia area for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, all at no cost to the schools.

This year's five schools are New Foundations Charter School, Henry C. Lea Elementary, Russell Byers Charter School, MAST Community Charter School II, and H.B. Hackett Elementary. Each school began a 17-week musical theatre residency this past January. They received performance rights, education support materials, and guidance from Walnut Street Theatre teaching artists. The program features a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partner with teaching artists to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph, and music direct, culminating in their first Disney KIDS musical at their school.

Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), are 30-minute musicals designed for elementary school performers and have been adapted from the classic Disney films 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Winnie the Pooh.

As a capstone to the experience, Walnut Street Theatre is presenting its first Student Share Celebration in which each school performs a number from their Disney KIDS musical on the Walnut's mainstage for an audience of students, teachers, family, and community members. The schools will perform songs from The Jungle Book KIDS, Aladdin KIDS, and The Lion King KIDS. The event will be hosted by Philadelphia-born actor Hasani Allan, who began his career at the age of 10 as a member of the Walnut Street Theatre's outreach program and has since been cast in regional productions, including Peter Pan and Finian's Rainbow at the Walnut.

Launched in New York City in 2009, the Disney Musicals in Schools program was developed in response to the Disney Theatrical Group's concerns that under-resourced public elementary schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After its successful launch in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with performing arts organizations across the country, expanding the program nationwide.

To date, the program has impacted more than 300 schools, nearly 1,000 teachers and over 40,000 students worldwide. With the 2019 launch of Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, DMIS is now in 21 cities, including its first international program in London.

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