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Musical theater kids

Audio: Write Your Own Musical
Heather Nathans, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Maryland, is joined by Joe Stein and Sheldon Harnick (writers of Fiddler on the Roof) and Stephen Schwartz (who wrote Pippin, Godspell, and Wicked) to talk about how a musical gets written.
America, Art Venues, Backstage, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Young Artists

Lion King on Broadway

Audio: Disney Musicals
In an odd turn, the Broadway musical - exported by Walt Disney to cartoons in the 1930s - was returned to Broadway by Disney in the 1990s.
Broadway, Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Musicals, Theater, Popular Culture

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Safari Stretch
Act like a giraffe. Eat leaves. Stop for a drink. Enjoy the view. What other activities do you do in your typical giraffe day?
Animals, Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Sea Legs
Walk like a pirate on his ship during a storm. How do you move your feet? Legs? Remember, the waves are rocky and you need to keep your balance!
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shabby Chic
Build a fort using objects inside your home, like couch cushions, dining room chairs, and blankets. What kind of fort are you making? Is it a clubhouse? A shelter?
Architecture, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Sinking Sprint
Pretend you’re running over quicksand. Yikes! How fast do you move your legs to keep from sinking? How high do you kick them?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shadow Show
Make shadow puppets on the wall. Create a two character story—a character for your left hand and one for your right hand—and perform a puppet show.
Puppets, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shout it Out
You overheard your friends are throwing you a surprise party. Practice the perfect surprise party squeal so they won’t know the secret’s out.
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Noodle Stroll
Pretend you’re walking on spaghetti with bare feet. Is it easy or hard to get around? How many noodles get stuck between your toes?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Mute Button
Without talking, show you’re annoyed by the people talking behind you in the movie theater. Can someone guess what you’re acting out?
Theater, Movies & Movie Stars

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: On the Prowl
Act like a wolf. Run. Dig. Howl. What other activities do you do in your typical wolf day?
Theater, Animals, Physical Activity, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Think Big
Pretend you’re eight feet tall. What do you see from up there? How does moving around change? Remember, be careful not to hit your head!
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Slow-Mo
Pretend you are running…in slow motion. Is it easy or hard? How do you move your arms, legs, and even face to pull this off?
Physical Activity, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Smiley Face
Look in a mirror and try out different smiles. Can you make a smile that’s silly? Scary?
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Tail Spin
Pretend you have a tail. Is it long? Short? Curly? Fluffy? Does it change how you walk? Chase it. What happens?
Animals, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Starstruck
You’re a rock star. Practice signing your autograph for the red carpet. Is yours big and loopy or small and scribbly?
Rock & Roll, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Chilly Toes
Pretend you’re walking on ice cubes with bare feet. Brrr! Are you moving fast or slow? Careful not to slip!
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Casting Call
You’re starring in a movie as a French chef. Get into character by describing what’s in your refrigerator. Remember your accent!
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater, World Cultures, Europe

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Catch Me
Pretend you’re a frog, chasing a fly. Listen as it buzzes by your ear and watch as it flies around. Now try and catch it. How long does it take?
Animals, Theater, Nature

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Chow Call
Create a cheer about your favorite dessert. Add some dance steps and arm movements. How many different dessert cheers can you compose?
Theater, Sports, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Be a Star!
Pretend you’re a character from your favorite book. Eat dinner as the character. Can your family guess who you are?
Literature, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Be a Star!
Pretend you’re a character from your favorite movie. Do your homework as the character. Are they as good a student as you?
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Animal Instincts
Inch around like a caterpillar. How quickly do you get places this way? Remember though, in time you become a butterfly. What’s it like to suddenly be able to fly?
Animals, Physical Activity, Theater, Nature

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Anybody There?
Walk like a ninja. Remember, you must be quick and silent as if you’re invisible! How long can you go undetected?
Japan, Physical Activity, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Bird Brain
Act like an eagle. Soar. Swoop. Nest. What other activities do you do in your typical eagle day?
Animals, Theater, Nature, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: If Animals Could Talk
Talk like an alligator. What do you sound like? What do you talk about? See if a friend or family member can guess what animal you are.
Animals, Theater, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Mail Call
Waddle like a duck on your way to pick up the mail. To get it right, how do you move your feet? Legs? Hips?
Animals, Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Magic Musings
You’re a wizard. What’s your favorite spell? How does it go? Draw a picture of yourself in your wizard’s outfit.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Visual Arts, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Do You Tweet?
Listen to a bird. Imitate the sounds it makes. Can you convince it you are a fellow bird?
Animals, Theater, Nature, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Hot Hot Hot!
Pretend you’re walking on hot coals with bare feet. Yikes! How fast do you go to keep from burning your feet?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Oscar Wilde
"The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life."
Europe, Controversial, Literature, Comedy, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Samuel Beckett
"Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order."
Dance, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Aristotle
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
Greece, Theater, Tragedy

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Abhinavagupta
"Drama is like a dream, it is not real, but it is really felt."
Theater, India

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Sir Francis Bacon
"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."
Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Literature, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Oscar Hammerstein
"All the sounds of the earth are like music."
Broadway, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Theater

Arthur Miller

Arts Days: October 17, 1915: A Man of Morals
Arthur Miller's dramatic works probe at various aspects of human nature—all of them—the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Crucible, for example, examines what prompts otherwise good, moral people to make false accusations about others, while Incident at Vichy considers why the Nazis were able to perpetrate the mass slaughter of Jews.

In Death of a Salesman, Miller tells the story of an aging businessman attempting to right the failures of his past, and explores the concept of the "American Dream." This 1984 Kennedy Center Honoree became something of a political lightning rod, too: In 1957 Miller was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during Congress’ bid to find Communist sympathizers in the ranks of U.S. writers, actors, and others. Miller refused, was convicted of contempt, and became a hero of the political Left.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Controversial, Literature

Orson Welles

Arts Days: October 30, 1938: Fright Night
Horrified people all over the East Coast huddled by their radios and listened fearfully to the newscast of a Martian invasion of Earth. In Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, where the Martians had supposedly landed, people took to the streets with weapons, intent on repelling the invading army.

Soon a mob had assembled, and police were called to subdue the panicked crowd. But there were no Martians, only acting impresario Orson Welles’ overheated imagination. The entire "news broadcast" was only an adaptation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and airing on CBS. Radio announcers were more careful to insert disclaimers during fictional programs after the War of the Worlds fiasco.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater, Popular Culture

Eugene O’Neill

Arts Days: October 16, 1888: The Playwright Cometh
Among the greatest of American playwrights, Eugene O’Neill had theater bred right into him. His father was a touring actor, so O’Neill and his family accompanied him everywhere. It made for a transient life, but one that fed the young writer’s creativity.

His plays are detailed, realistic portrayals of the complex and difficult relationships among everyday people. O’Neill was also an innovator: He introduced the concept of realism to American audiences, explored simultaneous action on stage, and employed “the aside,” a dramatic technique that allows characters to reveal their true thoughts directly to the audience.

Through his work, he hoped to challenge theatergoers to reflect on their own families, relationships, and conflicts. Among his classic plays are Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Broadway, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Innovators & Pioneers

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Arts Days: October 13, 1962: Couples’ Therapy
It’s said that playwright Edward Albee, a 1996 Kennedy Center Honoree, had his own experiences at Connecticut’s Trinity College in mind when he wrote this play about George and Martha, a university professor and his wife. The audience watches as this dysfunctional, middle-aged couple drink heavily, insult one another and their guests, and savagely expose each other’s layers of emotional fragility.

The play’s adult language, themes of infidelity and alcohol abuse, and conflicts between illusion and reality, caused quite a stir after the play opened on this day in 1962. Only a few years later, the controversial drama was adapted into a feature film as a star vehicle for Hollywood’s iconic couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Today it is viewed as an important milestone in the development of modernist drama.
Theater, Broadway, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

Fiddler on the Roof

Arts Days: September 22, 1964: Mazel Tov! It’s a Hit!
It was just a simple story of a Russian Jew with five daughters, based on a book by Joseph Stein. But thanks to Jerry Bock’s music, Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics, and Zero Mostel’s unforgettable turn as Tevye the milkman, Fiddler on the Roof became one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals. Tevye tries hard to preserve the traditions of his childhood, but as his daughters grow up, fall in love, and leave the family’s village, he struggles to accept change.

In songs like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” Tevye’s family’s life is recounted with both hilarity and poignancy. Fiddler would go on to be the first musical to break the 3,000-performance mark on Broadway.
Broadway, Musicals, Europe, Folklore, History, Theater, World Cultures

Agnes De Mille

Arts Days: September 18, 1905: Dance Queen of Broadway
Her father William and her uncle Cecil were both big-shot Hollywood directors, so perhaps it was genetic that Agnes de Mille sought a life in the arts. She studied piano, considered acting and took dance lessons, and choreographed big dance sequences for movies like Cleopatra and ballets including the sensational Rodeo (which received 22 curtain calls). Yet it was as a choreographer for the theatrical stage that de Mille really found her calling.

The dance routines she created were anything but routine. Musicals like Carousel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and especially Oklahoma! revolutionized musical theater by the way de Mille incorporated her choreography right into the plot, further rounding out characters’ personalities, and blending folk dance with ballet.
Backstage, Broadway, Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, Musicals, Theater

Ed Sullivan

Arts Days: September 28, 1901: Talent Scout
Hard to believe but for more than three decades, Ed Sullivan's television variety show kept Americans entertained. Sullivan, a former sports reporter and radio announcer, became an emcee to vaudeville revues and charity events. Despite his famously wooden persona and uncomfortable on-camera appearance, Sullivan knew how to choose and showcase talent.

Until 1971, The Ed Sullivan Show provided a staging arena for entertainers of all stripes. Elvis made his hip-shaking debut in 1956; the Beatles’ 1964 appearances were some of television’s highest rated programs. The show was as likely to feature opera performances as it was rock and roll bands, and hosted many black performers, including Pearl Bailey, Diana Ross, and Louis Armstrong.
Art Venues, America, Television, Young Artists, Rock & Roll, Comedy, Dance, Theater, Music

A Chorus Line

Arts Days: September 27, 1983: One Singular Sensation
There are 17 of them up on the bare stage—chorus dancers, known as “gypsies” in musical theater lingo. They audition, then wait, wait some more…most are sent home empty-handed. This trying experience was captured by a young dancer/choreographer (and former gypsy) named Michael Bennett. Bennett took the audition process and added a slew of talented singer/dancer hopefuls and a fabulous score by Marvin Hamlisch.

The show’s minimal sets and costumes kept the audience’s focus right where it should be: on the singing and the dancing as each character sings and shares his or her story about how they wound up at the audition. Sometimes funny, always moving, the show’s cinema-like staging includes jumps from one character to another, stage dissolves, and close-ups.
Broadway, Musicals, Art Venues, Theater

The John F. Kennedy Center

Arts Days: September 08, 1971: America’s Home for the Arts
In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation to build a national cultural center in Washington, D.C. Yet in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Congress decided that the center would be a “living memorial” to our 35th president, who had worked tirelessly to elevate the role of the arts in America.

Opening night saw the debut performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, written in memory of the fallen president; other performers included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Berkshire Boys Choir. Since that night, the Center has welcomed and entertained millions as the finest performers from around the globe have graced its multiple stages. In addition, its Education Department touches more than 11 million young people, teachers, and parents each year.
Architecture, Art Venues, Backstage, Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance, Dance Legends, America, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Opera, Theater

Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

Arts Days: August 02, 1932: Peter the Great
No matter how many leading stage and screen roles he’s portrayed, Peter O’Toole is best recognized as the title character in David Lean’s 1963 screen classic, Lawrence of Arabia. In this epic adventure film, O’Toole plays the title character, T.E. Lawrence, a British national torn during World War I between his allegiance to the crown and the bonds he forms with Sherif Ali and other Arabs.

O’Toole’s performance, coupled with stunning cinematography and a soaring soundtrack, riveted audiences and catapulted him to worldwide fame. Whether appearing in a drama, comedy, romance, or even musical, O’Toole impresses critics and fans alike with his larger-than-life insight and intelligence.
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Jessica Tandy in A Streetcard Named Desire

Arts Days: December 03, 1947: Passion Play
The great American playwright and 1979 Kennedy Center Honoree Tennessee Williams took home the Pulitzer Prize for this Southern Gothic play. Elia Kazan directed the young newcomer Marlon Brando and the veteran Jessica Tandy in the iconic roles of Stanley Kowalski and his sister-in-law Blanche DuBois, whose violence-laced attraction to one another drives much of the action.

Blanche, a frail, helpless relic of the Old South, has come to New Orleans to seek refuge in her sister’s home, only to face psychological and sexual clashes with Stanley. As the play unfolds, the audience witnesses Blanche’s slow descent into insanity. After completing the show's run on Broadway, both Tandy and Brando enjoyed illustrious acting careers; Kazan not only went on to direct the 1951 movie version of Streetcar, but was also named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1983.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Controversial

Lillian Russell

Arts Days: November 22, 1880: Broadway’s Beauty
In the late 1870s, 18-year-old Helen Louise Leonard arrived in New York City in the hopes of becoming an opera star. After a bit role in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the beautiful blonde singer was discovered by theatre owner Tony Pastor. He changed her name and introduced her on opening night as “Lillian Russell, the English Ballad Singer.”

Russell’s gorgeous soprano and voluptuous figure earned her the nickname “America’s Beauty,” and she kept the press busy with her penchant for living life to the fullest. Russell starred in more than 24 musical comedies, many of which were written expressly for her. While none of her musicals are performed today, Lillian Russell is still remembered as one of the early 20th century’s most important Broadway stars.
Broadway, Theater, America, Musicals, Opera, Music Legends, Music

Viola Spolin

Arts Days: November 07, 1906: Play Acting
As an actress, director, and drama teacher, Viola Spolin used simple skits and other exercises to train actors to perform in believable ways. Her methodology formed the core of what we call “improv” today. Improv wasn’t originally focused on comedy, but evolved over time and today is generally defined as comic skits made up on the spur of the moment.

Watch a performance by acclaimed Chicago-based theater group, Second City, and see improv in rapid-fire action. Spolin, the “Grandmother of Improv,” helped devise ways for actors to warm up, focus, play, and make the connections needed to be spontaneous and hilarious.
Comedy, Innovators & Pioneers, Theater, America

William Shakespeare

Arts Days: November 01, 1604 and 1611: A Double Bill of Will
Was this William Shakespeare’s lucky day or just a coincidence that two of his best known plays premiered on the first day of the 11th month, seven years apart? Each play was first presented to King James I at the Palace of Whitehall, the decades-old main residence of the kings and queens of England.

It was customary for any new works to first be seen by the monarch and his court before any presentation to the general public. It is likely that for many years after these two debuts, both plays were indeed performed for the general public at playhouses like The Rose and The Globe. The demand for such entertainment was so great that chances are the ink was barely dry on the page when the first productions were mounted.
Shakespeare, Playwrights & Plays, Tragedy, Europe, Theater

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