Come September, Juneau kids will have a chance to shine with Broadway stars.
Applications are available for "Bravo On With the Show," a new program from the film and arts television network. The program, now in its first year, sends Broadway performers, composers and producers to teach kids in 20 U.S. cities about theater.
Thanks to a partnership with the GCI cable company, Juneau joined such major cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Orleans on Bravo's list.
"Anchorage does not carry the Bravo channel and we do," said Wanda Geist, an administrative assistant at GCI who is coordinating the program. "It's a pretty popular channel here in town. The other reason ... was that we are the state capital. I think that they felt there would be good exposure in the capitol with the people who make decisions about arts education funding."
Bravo began planning the program after a national study of business professionals commissioned by the channel showed that many attribute their success in life to participation in the arts.
"Three-thousand adults all basically agreed that being involved in theater helped them to be more successful in their careers," said Lisa Hudson, a publicist for Bravo. "These are executives. It just kind of (lent) itself to what we were doing."
The two-day workshop begins on Sept. 8. Slots are available for 100 children, ages 10 to 17.
"It's a first-come, first-served basis," said Geist. "However, they have broken it down between age groups. If 100 17-year-olds applied, we would hold some of those to try to get some 10-year-olds."
Students will practice diverse elements of theater
production, including improvisation, play writing, directing, music and dance. The program will culminate in a free public performance on Sept. 9.
"The opportunity in a community our size to work with professionals from New York who have Broadway resumes is unparalleled to anything I can imagine happening," Geist said . "It's the opportunity for those kids to understand that the arts is a viable option as a career."
During the lunch hour, local artists will speak to students about arts opportunities available in Juneau. Later in the year, a 60-second clip highlighting the Juneau program will be shown on Bravo.
The network hopes the program will spur public and political interest in arts funding, Hudson said.
"There are two primary missions," she said. "(We want) to restore theater arts programs in public schools and ... raise the awareness of the positive impact theater participation has on young people."
Interest in the program is strong, Geist said. About half of the slots are already filled.
"Every adult person that I've spoken to about this project has said, 'Oh, I wish I'd been able to do something like that when I was a kid,'" she said. "I have spoken with all the music teachers in town and their one disappointment is that we weren't doing it for more than 100 (students.)"
Bravo hopes the program will have a lasting effect on students, Hudson added.
"It helps build self-esteem and leadership skills, and these are key skills that can last," she said. "These children can take these skills into whatever career they choose to go into. It's not just theater."
Applications can be picked up at the GCI Juneau office at 3161 Channel Drive, Suite #1. They must be postmarked no later than Aug. 24. Questions can be directed to Geist at 463-1401, or 586-3320. Information is also available at www.bravotv.com.