Disney Awards $100,000 Grant to Playhouse Square to Fund Theater Education Program

Cleveland, OH – Playhouse Square has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Disney to help bring the Disney Musicals in Schools program to Cuyahoga County. The program is an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create ongoing theater programs in local elementary schools. The grant will fund two years of programming—four schools will be selected this year, and another four next year.

The after-school programs are completely free to participating schools. 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.

Through an application process, Playhouse Square selected four Cuyahoga County public elementary schools to participate during the 2015-16 school year: Campus International School, Paul L. Dunbar Elementary, Marion-Sterling and Oxford Elementary School. The four selected schools will participate in a 17-week musical theater residency. Playhouse Square and Disney Theatrical Group will train and assign teaching artists in the after-school sessions. At no cost to them, the schools will receive performance rights, educational support materials and guidance from the teaching artists. The teaching artists’ roles are to help produce the chosen Disney musical by working with educators to create a sustainable theater program in the participating schools. The programs will culminate in 30-minute Disney musicals at each school site. At a later date, Playhouse Square will host a Student Share Celebration, where each school will have the extraordinary opportunity to perform a selection from its show on a Playhouse Square stage for an audience of fellow students, family members and neighbors.

Playhouse Square Executive Producer Gina Vernaci said, "We are grateful to our friends at Disney Theatrical Group and The Walt Disney Company, for their generous grant. Through the continued vision of Tom Schumacher, the transformative power of live performance will reach deep into our community to enrich students as well as their families. The magic of this program will resonate for years to come."

Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in response to Disney Theatrical Group’s concern that low-income students in urban, public 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 around the United States.

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, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, and Winnie the Pooh.

DISNEY THEATRICAL GROUP (DTG) operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world’s most successful commercial theater enterprises, bringing live entertainment events to a global annual audience of more than 19 million people in more than 50 countries. Under the Disney Theatrical Productions banner, the group produces and licenses Broadway musicals 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, and Newsies. Aladdin is its most recent Tony Award-winning Broadway hit; its most recent London production is the critically acclaimed comedy, Shakespeare In Love. Other successful stage musical ventures have included King David in concert, the national tour of On The Record, several touring versions of Disney’s High School Musical, and Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin. DTP has collaborated with the country’s leading regional theatres to develop new stage titles including Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Jungle Book and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Disney Theatrical Group also delivers live shows globally through its license to Feld Entertainment, producer of Disney on Ice and Disney Live!  For over 30 years, Disney on Ice and Disney Live! have brought beloved Disney stories and characters annually to over 12 million guests in nearly 50 countries worldwide through productions such as Frozen, Princesses & Heroes, Treasure Trove, and Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure.  In addition, DTG licenses musical titles for local, school and community theater productions through Music Theatre International.

Music Theater International (MTI) is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting schools as well as amateur and professional theaters from around the world the rights to perform the largest selections of great musicals from Broadway and beyond. MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these shows to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to more than 60,000 theatrical organizations in the U.S. and in over 60 countries worldwide.

MTI is particularly dedicated to the idea of theater as education and has created special collections for younger performers. The MTI Broadway Junior Collection® includes “JR.” titles, 60-minute musicals for performance by middle school children; and “KIDS” titles, 30-minute musicals for performance by elementary school children. MTI School Editions™ are musicals that have been annotated for performance by high school students, and the Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) Collection are 70-minute musicals designed for adults to perform for children.

The largest performing arts center in the country outside of New York, the not-for-profit Playhouse Square is Northeast Ohio’s destination for Broadway and more great entertainment. Playhouse Square is a champion of arts education and downtown Cleveland, and proud to be the home of Cleveland Play House, Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance, DANCECleveland, Great Lakes Theater and Tri-C JazzFest.



Cindi Szymanski
Senior Manager,
Brand Marketing and Communications