Freddie Gershon’s Thoughts on the TONY Honors and MTI’s Broadway Junior Collection

Freddie Gershon’s Thoughts on the TONY Honors and MTI’s Broadway Junior Collection

I’m appreciative of the recognition by the theatre community and my colleagues and feel honored and humbled at the same time.  However, it is impossible to create something new without the collaboration of many people with different talents. The same is true when a musical has to be transformed three dimensionally for its actual performance. In developing the MTI Broadway Junior Collection of musicals, I am blessed with the MTI family of talents who have served as my collaborators in helping to implement it, along with young incubation companies that evolved from MTI and have continued to re-conceive the student materials with invaluable feedback and are indispensable collegial collaborators.

MTI’s Broadway Junior Collection is an answer to a challenge presented to me by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. They identified with visionary prescience the contracting world of young people in the audience and the general lack of opportunity for exposure to the arts and musical theatre in particular. The challenge was to engage kids and let them discover the magic of theatre for themselves, so that it stays vibrant and robust for multiple generations by being insinuated into the culture of our country.

The Broadway Junior Collection that resulted changed the world for the better and enhances young people’s lives by encouraging them to become better citizens and ultimately more well-rounded, happily walking away from the musical theatre experience with at least three critical elements:

-The first is tasting the magic of music, dance, theatre by putting on a show that is a composite of several arts as well as theater crafts which produce joy, fun and the excitement of immersing oneself in the world of imagination.

-The second is stimulating that part of the brain that allows for them to dream, open their minds and perhaps develop a love for this art form as participants or audience members and utilize those visions and dreams in different fields of their choosing as they mature and grow with a fresh willingness to dream and imagine in math, medicine, digital worlds or any field for which they have passion and inclination.

-Lastly, it is a lesson in how life works and serves as a microcosm of an interactive civilized society where different people perform different roles in a collaborative fashion for a common goal and finding emotional rewards, personal bonding, and unique satisfaction and delight along the way.

Knowing that the MTI Broadway Junior Collection has been embraced by so many and that they learn through experiencing is most gratifying to me. The recognition of a Tony is a validating “cherry on top.” I am grateful to Arthur and Steve for 'tweaking' me...and to the many people who then gave of themselves (and continue to give) to make this new approach to arts and education an American institution that I believe has implications far beyond the arts.

Read the Announcement from the TONY Awards Committee and Other Media Outlets