Hi, Gabriella here!
A few weeks ago, I finished an internship with Broadway Teacher’s Workshop. For 18 days in July, my life was a whirlwind of theatre, consuming copious amounts of coffee and handing out name tags.
Broadway Teaching Group (BTG) was started by director/writer Gordon Greenberg and producer Pam Pariseau about 17 years ago (or 16…they can’t decide). The aim of the organization is to provide theatre educators and directors from all over the world a chance to experience one-of-a-kind workshops and theatre in the heart of New York City. Broadway Teacher’s Workshop is comprised of three days of classes and tickets to four Broadway shows, giving teachers an opportunity to network, enrich their teaching and keep up with the ever changing world of NYC theatre. BTG also has a smaller workshop for students called the Broadway Student Summit, where students have the opportunity to take two days of performance based classes, as well as see a Broadway show.
I first heard about BTW about 5 years ago, when my mom (Melodie) and my step-dad (Rex) attended for the first time. They couldn’t stop raving about it; the sheer number of wonderful classes and artists they were able to “soak in”, as well as being able to get tickets to the newest shows felt like it flew by in three days. Over the years I have always been interested in being an intern, but the last few summers I have had the great fortune of working or performing in a show, so I haven’t been in the city.
This year, however, I decided I was going to apply! I wanted to make connections in the industry, be immersed in the “world of Broadway” for a month and hey–free tickets to shows didn’t sound too bad either. My theatre nerdiness would be at its peak level, as I would be able to meet performers and directors whom I have looked up to for a long time and get another perspective on the industry that I (mostly) love.
In March, I heard I was accepted to be an intern-hooray! Only four months to go!
On July 5, we had our first day.
Our “HQ” for the month was split between The Sheen Center on Bleeker Street (for the non-NYC residents, think Lower East Side-hipster district) and the New Amsterdam Theatre, right in the heart of Times Square. On the first day, which was our prep day, we were tasked with distributing the tickets for the four shows the teachers would be seeing (Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Anastasia) and marking where they were seated on a giant spreadsheet. If I have failed to mention, BTW has five sessions, which means over 1,000 teachers participate! That being said, this was quite a large task. Thankfully, our team included 15 interns, Gordon & Pam, and our coordinators, Morgan and Chris. After carefully recording the tickets, we then “stuffed” the registration packets with all that was needed for the attendees: schedules, subway maps, name tags etc. We were ready to go!
July 6: Let’s begin! Bring on the teachers!
Each session starts with a welcome, and a “Creativity and Connection” class with my hero, Susan Blackwell. If you don’t know her, YouTube “Side by Side by Susan Blackwell” and she will become your hero too.
Then, the teachers split into different classes of their choice. We had a class with David Loud, an amazing arranger and music director, who did a beautiful presentation about Frank Loesser’s music; we also had a Hamilton dance class, and the teachers learned some of the choreography from the show with a member of the cast. There was directing with Jeff Calhoun, who most recently directed Newsies, and song interpretation classes with Jenn Colella (Tony nominated for her performance in Come From Away), and Geoff Packard (Bandstand), as well as a workshop with Music Theatre International, just to name a few.
BTW also included Q & A’s with Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (most recently, the music/lyrics of Dear Evan Hansen), Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (you know them for music/lyrics of Frozen), Lynn Aherns (lyricist for Ragtime, Once on this Island…the list goes on), Terrance McNally (book writer of Ragtime, Anastasia…again the list goes on) and Christian Borle (actor: Peter and the Starcatcher, Falsettos, Something Rotten…etc), depending on the session. All of these brilliant minds in one space, and I was able to soak in all their experience and knowledge along with the teachers. And sometimes, more than once, if they came back for multiple sessions!
On the third day, the teachers took a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre, where Aladdin is playing, as well as attended workshops with Disney Theatricals. Phew-it’s exhausting just typing all these classes!
As interns, we were responsible for welcoming the attendees, registration, distributing tickets, providing direction, answering questions and of course, being the friendly and knowledgable faces representing BTW. With all those responsibilities, I am grateful I was able to listen to the classes, and one session, I even got to participate when a someone dropped out!
We also had the incredible opportunity to see some of the shows the teachers were seeing FOR FREE! I was able to see Come From Away, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Anastasia. I would see a Broadway show every night, so for me, this was the icing on the cake. I strive to surround myself with theatre in any way I can, and the entire internship experience was just that.
Also, Mel & Rex (as Taylor and I lovingly refer to them), attended the “D” session, which means they were the 4th group to take the workshop. It was SO cool and fun to have them around at the workshop, especially when Rex participated in some of the classes. Oh yeah, did I not mention there was a class taught by Freestyle Love Supreme? Lin-Manuel Miranda began this group with some improv friends about 10 years ago, where they helped him develop both In the Heights and Hamilton, and now the group performs freestyle (improv) rap, AND they teach uncool folks like myself how to beatbox! (Hint…start by saying: boots and cuts)
On July 22, after a long but fun journey, we wrapped up BTW and ate cake to celebrate. What a wonderful experience, and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of interns to share it with.
As to not overwhelm you by THEATRE NERDINESS/SAPPINESS, I will conclude by listing some of the inspiring and motivational ideas I learned during this experience:
–Always be your authentic self
-Creativity takes risk
-Be present and pro-active
-Set intentions for your day (every day)
-Create your imagination
And…go to Sardi’s!