Created by Music Theatre International CEO and Tony Honors for Excellence recipient Freddie Gershon, the Freddie G Fellowship welcomes a select group of theatre instructors to be part of an all-expense paid trip to New York, where they are able to work one-on-one with industry professionals in a weekend of seminars, master classes, and Broadway shows. In addition, each of the participating teacher’s schools/programs receives $5,000 from Gershon and his wife Myrna to enhance their arts program.
Running July 12-15, this year’s program includes master classes with Tony-nominated Newsies director Jeff Calhoun, Tony Award-winning Newsies choreographer Christopher Gattelli, musical director and conductor Kristen Blodgette (Sunset Boulevard), Tony-winning lighting designer Ken Billington (Sweeney Todd, Chicago), and Broadway sound designer Matt Kraus (Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to Broadway).
This year’s attendees will also have the opportunity to observe a workshop of Matilda Junior, based on the Tony-nominated Roald Dahl musical. Each summer, MTI and iTheatrics hold workshops of various musicals in the pipeline for the Broadway Junior catalogue, which includes adaptations of Annie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Peter Pan, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and more.
This year the Freddie G Fellowship has expanded its reach globally, inviting theatre educators and instructors from Australia to apply. Participants are selected from a pool of educators in attendance at the annual Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta and the inaugural Junior Theater West Festival in Sacramento, which are sponsored by Music Theatre International, Disney Theatrical Group, and Playbill.
The theatre instructors selected for the 2017 Freddie G Fellowship are Bridget Burrows (Porter Ridge Middle School; Monroe, North Carolina); Angelo Cerniglia (Hilton Head School for the Creative Arts; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina); Amber Dyson (Bay Area Children's Theatre; Concord, California); Shawna Linck (KIDSALIVE!; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma); Laurilea McDaniel (Mountain Ridge Middle School; Highlands Ranch, Colorado); Nicole Oliver (Conwell Kidz Drama Program; Bayonne, New Jersey); Mandy Seymore (Inspiration Stage; Sugar Land, Texas); and Daniel Stoddart (Hunter Drama; Cameron Park, NSW).
“The four days will fully engage the winning teachers in the Broadway musical theatre world and provide one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for them to take back to their schools, students and communities,” Gershon said in a statement. “These teachers perform inspiring work with limited financial resources. We want to give them the opportunity to live the Broadway experience and interact with qualified professionals to reward them for all they do to introduce the next generations to live theatre and simultaneously enhance their knowledge, skills and experience.
“Without teachers there is no Broadway Junior. Myrna and I feel strongly about our personally investing in teachers and immersing them in experiential skills they can take home and utilize to guide their students and pass on to other teachers,” added Gershon. “It’s crucial we keep live theatre thriving in this country by working with both educators and children,” Myrna added. “We believe that teachers should be honored and appreciated. Our future is in their hands.”