|Robert Ariza visits with First Grade on February 24, 2021|
However, I first saw him perform in the Off Off Broadway production of Charles Mee Jr.'s SOOT AND SPIT. The play, directed by Kim Weild, tells the story of James Castle. James created art - using the tools mentioned in the show's title - as a means of self-expression. As an deaf man with autism in the early 1900s, he lived a life of isolation without access to spoken or signed language. Art was his language. In SOOT AND SPIT, his art comes to life to tell his story. It was a fascinating theatrical experience made even stronger when Robert Ariza sang a show-stopping duet accompanied by his own guitar playing. It was gorgeous. A fan was born!
I met him after the show and asked if he might be interested in being a guest artist with Broadway Books First Class. He was, but shortly afterwards he left to join the National Tour of LES MISERABLES. That was soon followed by a year-long gig in Chicago with HAMILTON. Then, the pandemic caused my program to halt for a year delaying his visit even further.
|Robert Ariza with his Broadway Books First Class t-shirt|
It took four years, but we finally worked it out! Robert's visit happened to coincide with our 100th Day of School. This milestone in a school year has become a time of celebration and a guest artist visit is certainly a great way to honor the day.
|Thank you, Robert!|