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PRHS Students Heading to Broadway

Porter Ridge students Brianna Billiot, front left, Leah Morgan, Luke Tucker, back left, and Devante Lawrence will participate in Broadway Experience.

Four Porter Ridge High School theater arts students haven been chosen to participate in the first-ever Broadway Experience, sponsored by the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

The four Porter Ridge students, along with PRHS drama teacher Jessica Briggs and eight Charlotte area high school students, will get an all-expense-paid trip to New York, courtesy of an anonymous donor through the center.

"They told us .... we would be taking a trip to New York," student Devante Lawrence wrote in an e-mail. "I immediately jumped up and started clapping and dancing. Then I started screaming, 'Let's go, let's go, WOO!' I was so excited."

In late April, 12 students and chaperones will attend two Broadway shows and meet with Broadway professionals to talk about real-life careers in theater.

"They will be immersed in the culture of New York City," Briggs wrote in an e-mail. "The students may view Theatre as just another class to take in high school, but maybe after a trip like this they will view Theatre as an art form that can be used to inspire, motivate and move people."

The first-ever Broadway Experience came about because of a man who loves math.

Ralph Beck, Blumenthal Education Institute director, said the man, who he said wanted to remain anonymous, had a gift for math that "propelled him through high school.

"He asked himself later, as an adult, what would it have been like for me if my talent was not math but something related to the performing arts," Beck said. "He thought, 'I might not have graduated from high school.'"

The man was concerned that "not much" was available for high school students with a passion for the performing arts, so he created the Broadway Experience.

After corresponding with area superintendents, Beck and Michelle Youngs, education activities coordinator for the Blumenthal Education Institute, invited nine high schools to apply for the Broadway Experience. Six applied, each submitting a team of four students - two girls and two boys - and an adult who would chaperone. Three teams were chosen: Porter Ridge High; Renaissance School at Olympic High School; and Northwest School of the Arts. The later two schools are in Charlotte.

The three high school teams that weren't chosen won't be left out, Beck said. They'll receive tickets to at least three upcoming Blumenthal Performing Arts shows and tours and meetings with Blumenthal theater leaders.

Criteria for selection for the Broadway Experience included students with a passion for theater.

Brianna Billiot of Porter Ridge High said she's looking forward to learning more about stage performance on a professional level.

"I know I will only love theater more after experiencing Broadway," Billiot wrote in an e-mail. "I may even be inspired to make a profession out of stage acting along with film, which I am already planning on. I am hoping to build some lasting relationships with people who could guide me in the right direction."

Billiot and Lawrence will be joined by Porter Ridge students Luke Tucker and Leah Morgan.

Youngs said students will meet with Broadway cast members and production teams, who they can ask questions about what it takes to succeed in show business. She said only one of the 12 students has been to Broadway before.

"They are over-the-top excited," Youngs said.


Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/03/21/1324852/porter-ridge-students-get-a-trip.html#ixzz0ivcad59D

Written by: Charlotte Observer's Marty Minchin
Posted: Mar 15, 2010 by Ms. April Dawkins

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