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NEWS: The Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Disney Musicals in Schools

The interior of the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis – one of three historic theatres managed by the Hennepin Theatre Trust, and the venue for the final showcase of the Disney Musicals in Schools program.

The Minneapolis-based Hennepin Theatre Trust announced today that four Twin Cities schools that have been selected to participate in the 2022-2023 Disney Musicals in Schools program. This program is an initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create sustainable theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools. The four schools are:

  • Level Up Academy (White Bear Lake),
  • Peter Hobart Elementary (St. Louis Park),
  • Pillsbury Hobart Elementary (Minneapolis), and
  • Susan Lindgren Elementary (St. Louis Park).

The selected schools will begin a 17-week musical theater residency in January, receiving performance rights, education support materials and guidance from two teaching artists. The program features a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partner with Hennepin Theatre Trust’s teaching artists to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph and music direct, culminating in their first 30-minute Disney KIDS musical at their school. As a capstone to the experience, the Trust will host a Student Share Celebration in which each school performs one number from their show at the historic Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis for an audience of students, teachers, family and community members.

Peter Hobart Elementary and Susan Lindgren Elementary were involved in the pilot year of this program, which was interrupted in March 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, these schools will return to complete their productions and continue their work with the Trust to create a culture of musical theatre at their schools.

Disney Musicals in Schools uses the medium of musical theatre to foster positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the community.  Students and teachers work in teams, developing the wide spectrum of skills needed when producing a piece of musical theater, including critical thinking, problem solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence, and interpersonal skills. The program originally launched in under-resourced public elementary schools in New York City in 2010, before expanding nationwide.

Students participating in the Disney Musicals in Schools initiative study and perform the Disney KIDS musicals, special versions of favorite animated musicals designed to play to younger performers’ strengths. These 30-minute musicals, created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), have been adapted from the classic Disney films such as 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Frozen, The Aristocats, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Winnie the Pooh.

For more information about Spotlight Education, visit HennepinTheatreTrust.orgDisney Musicals in Schools is made possible with support from PNC Bank.

Twin Cities Arts Reader