Monday, October 19th. The setting was Broadway's Minskoff Theatre lobby overlooking Times Square: red carpeting, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a handful of masks and other memorabilia that remind attendees that, when not serving as a backdrop to area teachers and their theatrical counterparts, this is home to Disney's The Lion King.
However, this particular afternoon, from 4:00 to 7:30 pm, the expansive two-level venue was not set up with the show's customary souvenir kiosks and snack bars, but rather a collection of tables piled with informational brochures, CDs, study guides and giveaways dedicated to promoting the alliance of area educators and the Broadway (and Off-Broadway community). This, in fact, promised to be one of New York City's most innovative events: Partners In Education Expo '09.
Hosted by Nederlander Sales and Patron Services and Camp Broadway®, this first-ever event of its kind was established to "provide attending educators with strategies and techniques for using performing arts to enrich learning."
Noted Sarah Hutton, communications director of Camp Broadway: "Ideally we wanted this event to convey the educational value of our shows - and to give a sense of how each individual show offers a unique learning experience to a variety of age groups."
She went on to stress the importance of giving children - especially those lucky enough to live in an area that attracts audiences from around the globe - the opportunity to experience, and to be inspired by, the most celebrated productions in the world.
The Expo, which actually came together in a matter of months, offered meet and greets with Broadway performers (including the young actor Noah Robbins who plays Eugene Jerome in the revival of the Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs currently in previews at the Nederlander Theatre), book signings, and comprehensive data regarding NYC educational attractions and Broadway-area restaurants (to help customize fieldtrips).
Adding to the Expo's impressive scope were booths from licensing houses, complimentary refreshments from Mars 2112 and prize drawings that ranged from signature tote bags and memorabilia from Broadway shows to actual tickets to a number of hit productions, including Wicked and Billy Elliot.
Two-hundred and fifty educators - many with invited guests - signed up for the event and, while the prizes were a big hit, even more so were the one-on-ones with exhibitors and talks by Sean McCourt (creator of Wicked's ingenious educational experience "Behind the Emerald Curtain"); Bo Metzler (author of the book What We Do - Working In The Theatre); and Janet Susin (President of NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness Queens/Nassau, and co-author of the lesson plans "Breaking The Silence"), who spoke on issues brought out in the Broadway musical Next To Normal.
Exhibitors, Partners in Education Expo '09
The Broadway League
Drama Book Shop
Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
Lights on Broadway with Brian Stokes Mitchell
Madame Tussauds New York
Music Theatre International (MTI)
Nederlander Salesand Patron Services
New World Stages
NYC Metro Parent
Ripley's Believe it of NOT!
Theatrical Rights Worldwide
In The Heights
The Neil Simon Plays
Next To Normal
Phantom of the Opera
Rock of Ages
West Side Story
For more information: PartnersInEdExpo@campbroadway.com; Camp Broadway, 212-575-2929