The ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen program, which is designed to introduce the American Musical Theater to youngsters who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience it, went into high gear on Wednesday, October 17th as 85 seventh grade students from M.S. 224, Manhattan East School for Arts & Academics, received free orchestra level tickets and transportation to the Broadway matinee performance of Annie.
Prior to the performance, the creators of Annie, composer and ASCAP Foundation Board member, Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin met with the students at their school. They discussed the musical, their creative process and helped the students connect the themes and issues of the play to their own lives. Charles Strouse played the piano so that one of the students could sing her version of "Maybe" which she did to great acclaim from her classmates!
Charles Strouse has written scores for over 30 musicals, including 14 for Broadway and is the recipient of multiple Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards. He also has numerous TV & film scoring credits to his name. Lyricist and writer Martin Charnin, who began his career as an actor, has written lyrics for many musicals and is a Tony and Emmy Award winner.
Immediately following the Broadway performance, several of the show's cast members, including the dog "Sandy" and the stage manager, answered questions from the very excited and thrilled students. The 7th graders were very appreciative and enthusiastic about speaking with members of the cast and getting a first hand look into the orchestra pit.
The ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen program was established -- in honor of ASCAP member, Stephen Sondheim, composer/lyricist of Sweeny Todd, Company and A Little Night Music -- in 2005 to bring the musical theater experience to young students nationwide. The program was named for one of the songs from his musical, Into the Woods.