Feb 21, 2024

Disney Musicals in Schools Program Presented by Dee and Jimmy Haslam Expands to Three New Northeast Ohio Elementary Schools

A whole new world of performing opportunities is being offered to three Northeast Ohio elementary schools with the help of Playhouse Square and the Disney Musicals in Schools program presented by Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Every year, Playhouse Square accepts applications and chooses elementary schools to launch new theater programs for third to fifth graders to participate in this 19-week musical theater residency. The new schools selected for the 2023-24 school year include Benjamin Franklin Elementary (Cleveland), Bolton Elementary (Cleveland) and Eastern Heights Elementary (Elyria). The students and staffs at these schools are currently hard at work rehearsing, and they just can’t wait to showcase their talents and hard work.

As a part of the program, the first-year schools receive performance rights, educational support materials and guidance from professional teaching artists – all at no cost to them. The teaching artists work with the classroom educators, training them to produce a musical and to create a sustainable theater program in their schools. The residency culminates in a 30-minute Disney KIDS musical at each school.

In addition to performing at their schools, the students have the unique opportunity to take center stage at Playhouse Square in early March as a part of the Student Share Celebration. At this private event, each new participating school performs selections for an audience of fellow students, family members and school community. This year’s Student Share Celebration will also feature a special performance from the Douglas MacArthur Girls’ Leadership Academy. The school was a first-year participant in the Disney Musicals in Schools program in 2020 during the COVID-19 shutdown and did not have the opportunity to showcase their work at the Student Share Celebration. This year those student performers from 2020 will finally take their bow at Playhouse Square, and they will be joined by current third through fifth grade participants at Douglas MacArthur Girls’ Leadership Academy, shining a spotlight on the successful sustainability of their program.

Since 2015, Playhouse Square has helped with building sustainable musical theater programs at 28 elementary schools throughout Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain Counties. In addition to the three first-year participants, the 2023-24 Disney Musicals in Schools locations include Buhrer Dual Language School, Campus International School, Chestnut Elementary, Douglas MacArthur Girls Leadership Academy, Franklin D. Roosevelt Academy, Garfield Elementary School, George Washington Carver School, Newton D. Baker School of the Arts, Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, Paul L. Dunbar School, Stephanie Tubbs Jones School, Sunbeam School, Wilbur Wright School and William Rainey Harper School. Applications and eligibility requirements for the 2024-25 school year are now available at playhousesquare.org/disney-musicals-in-schools.

The Disney Musicals in Schools program is an education initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create ongoing theater programs in local elementary schools, specifically for third through fifth grade students. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with organizations in other communities around the United States. Disney Musicals in Schools helps to keep the arts in schools and utilizes the unique world of musical theater to build positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the community. Students work in teams to develop or restore self-confidence, strengthen communication and collaboration skills all while learning and enjoying the process of creating a musical theater production. The after-school programs are completely free to participating schools.

Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), are about 30 minutes in length and have been adapted from the classic Disney films: 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Finding Nemo, Frozen, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Winnie the Pooh.