by Melissa Griegel . . .
BroadwayEvolved, a theatre training program founded by Betsy Wolfe (Waitress, Falsettos), just finished their first in-person summer intensive with a show in Bryant Park. Aspiring actors, singers, and dancers, aged 14-18, came from places near and far to spend four intensive days of training during one of three sessions. All sessions, led by Betsy Wolfe, brought in Broadway stars to give these young performers personalized training encompassing acting, dance, vocal health, personal growth and development, college prep, wellness and self-care, TV, film, and self-tape coaching, the “Business of Broadway”, mock auditions, casting clinics, individual headshot sessions, and more.
“It was really amazing to work so closely with all of these talented kids,” said Betsy Wolfe. “They come from all walks of life, and I was honored to be able to a part of giving them this unique opportunity. Students have come from 40 states and 15 countries. With our ever-increasing scholarship funds, we were able to offer 21 scholarships and free full tuition to give this unique opportunity to a wider group of people. That has been very rewarding.”
The students experience culminated in a show in Bryant Park as part of the new park program Broadway-Bound, with support from Amazon. Amazon’s Carley Graham-Garcia was there to greet the students, along with Dan Biederman, President of Bryant Park Corporation. The students gathered on stage and were given the opportunity to listen to Tony winner Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!) and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells (Book of Mormon, Falsettos, Girls) talk about their careers and field questions from the audience. Ali Stroker told the students that her parents told her to focus on “What she can do, not what she can’t.” Wheelchair-bound, Ali said “Singing was my soccer. I couldn’t run around on the field and play soccer, but I could sing. So I honed in on that.”
Each student got a chance to get up and sing and be critiqued by Tony nominee Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill) and Ciara Renée (Frozen). Prior to the student performances, Lauren Patten sang “Hand in My Pocket” to a very appreciative crowd. Each student took their turn and got feedback from Patten and Renée. Time will tell if some of these talented students will by performing on Broadway stages in a few years. For more information about BroadwayEvolved, visit www.BroadwayEvolved.com.
photos by Melissa Griegel Photography