Aaron Walpole, Andrew Love, and Hannah Shankman talk to Amity Students about life as working actors.
When Amity Band Director Phil “I never win anything,” Dolan entered the WSHU Public Radio’s 14th annual “Music In Our Schools” outreach contest, he never dreamed he’d win.
But when the station picked the grand prize winner from 300 entries, the name on the card read “Amity Regional,” Phil Dolan was able to give his school the coolest gift ever.
The Grand Prize was better than a cash donation, or free T-shirts for the entire student body. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see three actual Broadway stars perform on the High School stage, then spend more than a half hour in a question and answer session, and join the actors in a choreographed number before rubbing elbows with them, talking one-on-one, taking selfies and getting autographs.
The three actors are all now starring in the new production of Les Miserables at the Imperial Theater on Broadway. Andrew Love (Javert — Ken Adair played this role in Amity’s production) sang “Stars”; Hannah Shankman (Eponine — Alli Kramer portrayed her at Amity in 2009) gave a stirring performance of “On My Own.”; and Aaron Walpole (Jean ValJean — John Jorge won the 2009 CT High School Musical Award for this role) sang the beautiful “Bring Him Home.”
Actress/Choreographer Shorey Walker served as emcee, she introduced each actor, then called upon Amity students to stand up and ask the cast questions about performing, getting started, dealing with stage fright, the path that led them to performing on Broadway etc.
When this session was over all of the students stood and participated in a fun, upper body choreography to the show stopping “Do You Hear The People Sing.”
The names of every student present were written on scraps of paper and placed in a basket from which six lucky winners were chosen.
Most received a CD of the Broadway Cast Recording of Les Mis, and the grand prize winning student won a full package of goodies, including a poster autographed by the cast, cd, and 4 tickets to see the show on Broadway.
Even though the actors had an evening performance to prepare for, they stuck around after the assembly was dismissed and talked to the kids, signed autographs took photos and just showed everyone that even busy working actors on a schedule can be down to earth.
The students didn’t forget to thank Mr. Dolan for making this afternoon experience possible.
Amity Principal Charles Britton was still smiling long after the assembly was over. “That was great,” he said. “What an amazing experience for the kids.”
About Music In Our Schools
WSHU developed the outreach program to bring visibility to the importance of music education, and to reward educators for the critical role they play in the community. All elementary, middle and high school music teachers in WSHU’s listening area were invited to enter the drawing. In addition to the cast performance, the Grand Prize winner received tickets to see LES MISÉRABLES on Broadway. First prize winning teachers each received a pair of show tickets, while second prize winning teachers received CD cast recordings.
“The ‘Music in Our Schools’ program is an integral part of our mission to serve our community,” said WSHU General Manager George Lombardi. “It also fits into our work to promote the importance of music, art, and culture. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring something really special to educators and students in our listening area.”
This year’s outreach program was generously sponsored by Really Good Stuff.