NBC to promote youth theater, just in time for 'Smash'
Corporate philanthropy meets mid-season ratings grab in a new musical-theater initiative from NBC that will target 20 underserved schools around the country. The program, which was announced Friday, coincides with the Feb. 6 debut of NBC's series "Smash," about the making of a Broadway musical.
NBC said it will work with 20 schools across the country to stage their own musical productions and implement self-sustaining theater programs. The initiative, which is being branded as "Smash: Make a Musical," is a partnership with iTheatrics, a New York organization that promotes musical theater for students of all ages.
The network said the 20 programs launching this month will be in cities including Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Ore., Seattle and St. Louis. (The names of the schools will be announced later this month.) Schools can apply to be part of the initiative's second round, which is scheduled for the fall. Applications are due by March 2.
"Smash" takes place in the competitive world of Broadway and follows the making of a new musical on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The series stars Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston and "American Idol" alumna Katharine McPhee. Playwright Theresa Rebeck serves as creator, writer and executive producer for the show, and Broadway veteran Marc Shaiman has written the original music.
NBC's initiative is similar in spirit to the education program already launched by Fox that is tied to its hit series "Glee." Fox's program, which is called "Glee: Give a Note," raises money to be donated to music programs in underserved schools throughout the country. The "Glee" initiative is a partnership with the National Assn. for Music Education.
-- David Ng
Photo: A scene from the upcoming NBC series "Smash," with Christian Borle, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. Credit: Will Hart / NBC Universal