Monday, December 31, 2018

Aladdin on Broadway!

"You ain't never had a friend like me!"

A few weeks ago I sat in Broadway's beautiful New Amsterdam Theater surrounded by my former students watching an ASL interpreted performance of Disney's ALADDIN. As the show unfolded on the stage, my gaze often fell upon the smiling, rapturous faces of the children enveloped in theater magic. Each child sitting comfortably beside Mom or Dad with expressions of open-mouthed awe or playful giggles as they bopped along in their seats to the thump, thump, thump of the orchestra.

For most of them - children and adults - this was the first time experiencing the color, energy, and razzle-dazzle that is the "spectacular spectacular" of Broadway. At intermission the children ran up to give me hugs and thanks because the evening would never have happened without Broadway Books First Class. We all gathered for this performance as an extension of Jonathan Freeman's guest artist visit back in October 2017.

Students gather around Jonathan Freeman in October 2017

Jonathan plays Jafar in the Broadway musical. He also voiced the role in Disney's 1992 animated blockbuster. He worked with me to help realize one of my dreams for the program, which was getting the children to a Broadway theater to fully make the connection between the classroom visits and the work our guests do. The children watched in wonder at Jonathan's transformation as Jafar and felt great pride when he shot us a smile and a wave during the curtain call. We all are indebted to this thoughtful man for making the evening possible.

Students gather in front of the stage curtain at ALADDIN in December 2018

My teaching philosophy has always begun with the belief that my first priority is ensuring that my students look forward to coming to school every day. From that starting point we can create a positive learning environment that incorporates mutual respect and trust. It is from there that lasting memories are made. I have no doubt that this experience will live on in the minds of these children and I cannot wait to see where the program takes us all in 2019.

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