Hennepin Theatre Trust COVID-19 Updates

Hennepin Theatre Trust receives major grant from Disney to fund new theater education program

March 9, 2020

Three local public elementary schools will produce a Disney musical at no cost

MINNEAPOLISHennepin Theatre Trust has been awarded a grant from Disney to bring the Disney Musicals in Schools program to the Twin Cities. The national program is a free initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Productions to create sustainable theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools. The grant funds programming for two years in select elementary schools. Hennepin Theatre Trust has selected three area public elementary schools to participate in the inaugural year all of which receive federal Title I funding for low-income populations including Peter Hobart Elementary School (St. Louis Park), Susan Lindgren Elementary School (St. Louis Park) and Valley View Elementary School (Columbia Heights). Another four schools will be added to the program next year.

These schools are participating in a 17-week musical theater residency led by Trust staff and Twin Cities based theater professionals. Each school receives 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 Trust teaching artists to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph and music direct, culminating in their first 30-minute Disney KIDS musical at their school. The goal is for schools to continue programming on their own well into the future.

The program is led by the Trust’s Spotlight Education program, which is an essential part of arts education in more than 100 Minnesota schools. The program currently partners with high school musical theater departments to provide professional training and feedback in efforts to strengthen existing programs. It is credited with providing some 8,000 students annually with life skills such as creativity, confidence and a sense of community. The Disney Musicals in Schools program allows the Trust to expand its programming to elementary schools.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with Disney to expand our Spotlight Education program in a new way and introduce young people to the magic of theater,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of the Trust. “Hennepin Theatre Trust and Disney Theatrical Group have enjoyed a long-running partnership of bringing Disney to Minneapolis since the pre-Broadway debut of The Lion King in 1997 and this is just the latest example of our valuable partnership.”

As a capstone to the Disney Musicals in Schools experience, Hennepin Theatre Trust will host a student share celebration that features performances by each school at the historic Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis before an audience of students, teachers, family and community members.

Using the unique world of musical theater, Disney Musicals in Schools helps 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.

Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in 2010 in response to Disney Theatrical Group’s concern that under-resources public elementary schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with organizations in other communities across the United States. It has since served 43,481 students in 388 schools throughout 21 cities.

Each school will perform one of several Disney KIDS musicals, which are created in partnership with Music Theater International (MTI), and include 30-minute musicals designed for elementary school performers adapted from the classic Disney films 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Frozen, The Aristocats, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Winnie the Pooh.

This year’s Minnesota schools will perform:

  • Peter Hobart Elementary School, The Jungle Book KIDS
  • Susan Lindgren Elementary School, Frozen KIDS
  • Valley View Elementary School, Frozen KIDS

Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.

Disney Theatrical Group (DTG) operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world’s most successful commercial theatre producers, bringing live entertainment events to a global audience of more than 20 million people a year in more than 50 countries.  Under the Disney Theatrical Group banner, the group produces and licenses Broadway productions around the world, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida, TARZAN®, Mary Poppins, a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, The Little Mermaid, Peter and the Starcatcher, Newsies, Aladdin, and Frozen.

Other successful stage musical ventures have included the Olivier-nominated London hit Shakespeare in Love, stage productions of Disney’s High School Musical, Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin, and King David in concert. DTG has collaborated with the nation’s preeminent theatres to develop new stage titles including The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Freaky Friday and Hercules. As a part of the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox, DTP also heads the Buena Vista Theatrical banner which licenses Fox titles for stage adaptations including Anastasia; Moulin Rouge! The Musical; Mrs. Doubtfire and The Devil Wears Prada.

Disney Theatrical Group also delivers live shows globally through its license to Feld Entertainment, producer of Disney on Ice and Marvel Universe Live!, bringing beloved Disney stories and characters annually to over 12 million guests in nearly 50 countries worldwide.  In addition, DTG licenses musical titles for local, school and community theatre productions through Music Theatre International, including The Lion King Experience, a unique holistic arts education program wherein accredited elementary and middle schools produce condensed, age-appropriate JR. and KIDS adaptations of The Lion King.

Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser, and orchestrator Don Walker, MTI is a driving force in advancing musical theatre as a vibrant and engaging art form.

MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these musicals to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to over 70,000 professional, community and school theatres in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide.

MTI is particularly dedicated to educational theatre and has created special collections to meet the needs of various types of performers and audiences. MTI’s Broadway Junior™ shows are 30- and 60-minute musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged performers, while MTI’s School Editions are musicals annotated for performance by high school students.

MTI maintains its global headquarters in New York City (mtishows.com), with additional offices in London (MTI Europe: mtishows.co.ukmtishows.eu), and Melbourne (MTI Australia: mtishows.com.au).

Hennepin Theatre Trust acknowledges additional support provided by PNC Bank.