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NBC's "Smash" and iTheatrics to fund musical at Watertown Middle School

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 10, 2012 02:59 PM

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Watertown Middle School will receive music and drama workshops funded by the new NBC series "Smash" and delivered by iTheatrics, a charitable youth production company, to aid students in performing a musical in May and beyond.

Watertown theater and chorus teacher Abby Cordell Casey applied for the grant, according to Timothy Allen McDonald, iTheatrics founding chairman.

The program, titled NBC's "Smash" Make A Musical, seeks to build musical theater programs in middle school that are cost effective and sustainable by teaching local educators how to conduct rehearsals, choose productions, and design sets, props and costumes, said McDonald.

Watertown was one of 20 schools chosen for the pilot program when more than 50 schools applied, McDonald said.

"They sought us out themselves and were a deserving school and a great match to what we're trying to do," McDonald said, noting that some schools selected were scouted by the organization.

World-renowned theater educators from New York City travel to each of the 20 schools to hold workshops with the students and drama teachers, and discuss which play options fit well with each particular group.

"The workshop is amazing – you start with kids who don't know each other or musical theater, and by the end of it, they are singing and acting from memory," McDonald said. "It's really a miracle."

Watertown's workshop will take place Friday, Feb. 17, McDonald said.

While Splash reports that the school hopes to perform "Into The Woods," McDonald said the workshop educators might suggest productions more friendly to first-time directors and young thespians.

"The code behind all this is to provide a sustainable and cost effective way [to put on productions] so kids always have access to the arts," McDonald said.

Casey, who is on maternity leave as of Feb. 3, and drama teacher replacement Victoria Portsmore are currently unsure of tryout, rehearsal, and production dates, according to Splash.

The two teachers each receive a stipend for participating in the program, McDonald said.

McDonald said he could not assign a number on how much it costs to fund the program, as much of it focuses on providing services.

"Smash" is currently discussing several ventures to publicize the program, including showing clips of the young actors rehearsing during broadcast time, on the show's website, and on the program's Facebook page, McDonald said.

The television show will also provide all funding for the production workshops, McDonald said.

The program will add 10 more schools in the spring, another 170 in the fall, and hopes to select 100 schools each year after that, McDonald said.

Casey, Portsmore and WMS principal Kimo Carter were unavailable for comment.

“Smash,” which premiered this week, runs on NBC on Mondays at 10 p.m.

-- jreiss.globe@gmail.com

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