Announcing “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” Grant Program for High Schools

Announcing “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” Grant Program for High Schools

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), The Music Man Foundation (TMMF) and MTI are announcing a special partnership that will give up to ten high schools a unique opportunity to perform the new, revised version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown ahead of its general release.

Up to ten $10,000 grants funded by TMMF will be made available for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years to be used toward costs associated with the production of the musical. Any accredited high school based in the United States is eligible to apply. Schools interested in applying for the opportunity to produce the new version of the show can apply online nowThe deadline for the first round of applications is October 27, 2023, and the announcement of recipients will happen in mid-November. A second deadline for applications will be announced at a later date.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown Grant seeks to enhance the capacity of school theatre programs to impact students, educators, and their communities-at-large. Applicants are asked to demonstrate plans to use the show as a tool to engage their school and surrounding population in themes present in the musical, including women's and immigrants' rights, community-building, and the civic-minded "share-the-luck spirit" embodied by Molly Brown. A selection committee comprised of members of the three partner organizations will review applications and award the grants in at least two rounds during the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024 for productions in the 2023-24 or 2024-25 school years.

"The Educational Theatre Foundation is proud to champion this new grant opportunity," said Matt Conover, chair of the foundation. "Using theatre as a means to promote racial equity and spark social activism in underserved populations is a key part of ETF's mission, and the themes of women's rights, labor rights, and immigration reform present in Margaret Brown's story align with that mission. We look forward to seeing the next generation engage with this classic musical in new and empowering ways."

The Unsinkable Molly Brown is the rags-to-riches love story of Molly and Leadville Johnny Brown, owners of the richest mine in the U.S. at the turn of the twentieth century. The show features music and lyrics by the incomparable Meredith Willson, and a book and additional lyrics by Tony-nominated author Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Renascence) based on the original book by Richard Henry Morris.

"Dick Scanlan's work on updating this classic for new performers and audience members is outstanding," said John Prignano, MTI's Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development and Education. "Timeless numbers from the original, like 'I Ain't Down Yet' and 'I'll Never Say No' are featured, while 'He's My Friend' has been added from the film along with clever and insightful new lyrics from some of Meredith Willson's beloved trunk songs. The result is a fantastic new show that resonates today while maintaining the heart and spirit of Willson's and Morris' original golden-age masterpiece."

This revitalized version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown includes everyone's favorite songs with a story about Molly as she really was: vibrant, progressive, and ready to fight for the underdog as a champion of women's rights, labor rights, and immigration reform.

"We're proud to be part of this project, which will celebrate Meredith Willson's music and Molly Brown's civic-mindedness in student productions and on high school campuses across the country," said Tom Camp, president of The Music Man Foundation, which was founded in Meredith Willson's honor. "We hope to see a wide range of schools apply for this opportunity - whether these funds could help a school produce its first full-scale musical or enhance a well-established theatre program."

MTI plans a wider release of the show to all theatrical organizations in 2024, following the awarding of the first round of grants. A free read of the revised script as well as selections from a new cast recording can be found here.

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