Founded as Open Doors in 1998 by TDF and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wasserstein, the arts mentorship program pairs theatre professionals with NYC-area public high school students for a season of shows and conversation. The celebration opens with performances from dancer/choreographer Leonardo Sandoval and the cast of Rent from Brooklyn High School of the Arts.
“The TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project honors Wendy’s vision of accomplished theatre professionals taking small groups of students to the theatre, meeting afterward and chatting—a simple yet eloquent way to celebrate the joy of live theatre. This year we transitioned back to that, slowly stepping into lit houses and seeing each other with new eyes,” said Director of TDF Education Programs Ginger Bartkoski Meagher in an earlier statement. “As a group, we got the chance to investigate what is meaningful, personal, and lasting about attending live performance. We explored our resilience and new normal together. Amazing students and mentors journeyed through the season, inspiring one another and learning about the world as it’s reflected through art and through each other.”
Every season, dedicated theatre and dance professionals mentor groups of eight underserved NYC high school students, bringing each cohort to six performances on Broadway and beyond throughout the school year. Every outing is followed by a post-show discussion, and students keep journals of their experiences, reviewed by and discussed with their mentors.
During the 2021-2022 season, 29 mentors worked with 23 groups of students from NYC-area public high schools. All students received free TDF memberships.
Mentors and their respective schools for the 2021-2022 project follow:
Marc Acito, Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & The Arts, the Bronx
Kathleen Chalfant, High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology, Brooklyn
Rachel Chanoff and Keith Randolph Smith, Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts, East Orange, NJ
Dawn Chiang, KAPPA International High School, the Bronx
Mindi Dickstein, Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School, Staten Island
Alexander Dinelaris, Community School for Social Justice, the Bronx
Joe DiPietro, High School of Economics & Finance, Manhattan
Ira Mont, Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Manhattan
Scott Ellis, All Hallows High School, the Bronx
Peter Friedman and Caitlin O'Connell, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, the Bronx
Anne Hamburger, The Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, Manhattan
Natasha Katz, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, Queens
James Lapine and Stephen Karam, William Cullen Bryant High School, Queens
Robert Longbottom, Millennium High School, Manhattan
Aubrey Lynch II, Talent Unlimited High School, Manhattan
Derek McLane, Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn
Kathleen Marshall, Bronx Health Sciences High School, the Bronx
Justin Paul and Marc Platt, West Bronx Academy for the Future, the Bronx
Seth Rudetsky, James Wesley, and Eric Ulloa, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn
Dick Scanlan, Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, Queens
Sergio Trujillo, Pan American International High School, Queens
Serena Wong and Leonardo Sandoval, Flushing International High School, Queens
David Zippel, The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, Manhattan
In 2012, TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project became the first arts education program to receive a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
Founded in 1968, TDF is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. Visit TDF.org.