ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen Program Provides an ‘Unforgettable’ Experience for Middle School Students from M.S. 57

October 23, 2017

For most New York City kids, ‘Broadway’ is just the name of a big street in Manhattan – not the place where you can find the world’s greatest musical theater shows. But even for those children who do know about the great Broadway theater tradition, high ticket prices and transportation issues make it almost impossible to see a show.

Thanks to our donors, The ASCAP Foundation has a solution. The ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen program, conceived by Foundation Board member Marilyn Bergman, introduces the American Musical Theatre to youngsters who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience it. To date, the Children Will Listen program has introduced the many facets of musical theatre to over two thousand economically disadvantaged children nationwide.

Recently 45 students ages 12 & 13 (plus chaperones) from M.S. 57, the Ron Brown Academy in Bedford Stuyvesant, received free premium tickets and luxury bus transportation to the Music Box Theatre for a matinee performance of Dear Evan Hansen. For many, it was their first Broadway experience.

Days before the show, the writers of the musical, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul came to the school to talk about the musical and their creative process. The students were treated to a performance by Justin and Benj of “Waving Through A Window,” one of the most dramatic songs of the show. The students, who had been listening to the cast album since the start of school, knew all the words and sang along. They also engaged in a Q&A in the theatre immediately following the show.

“My students and I cannot thank The ASCAP Foundation enough for our experience seeing Dear Evan Hansen… Not only did the students learn to have empathy for one another through this story, but they saw themselves within the characters on stage, which provided the perfect gateway theatre experience… If not for this organization, many of these children may never have set foot in a Broadway theatre,” said Jennifer DeRosa, drama teacher, Ron Brown Academy MS 57.

Established in 2005, The ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen program was created to honor Stephen Sondheim. The program was named for one of the songs from his musical, Into the Woods.