NEW YORK, NY: May 2019.
We like to think, in the language of our young friends at PS 194, that there is “real live magic” at work in our partnership with beloved Broadway show Wicked. The evidence sure supports this theory.
The dynamic educational partnership of today started over a year ago with a blank piano canvas and a vision. The cast and creative team of Wicked submitted a design for a 2018 Sing for Hope Piano that featured the show’s iconic Elphaba green, complemented by the intoxicating red of poppies. February of 2018 saw the Wicked team start to bring their SFH Piano to life side-by-side with 50 other artist teams in the Sing for Hope Piano studio at 28 Liberty.
A “Popular” Attraction Hits Madison Square Park
Once their SFH Piano got to its home at Madison Square Park for the three-week installation, Wicked and Sing for Hope made sure the magic never stopped. Wicked invited fans to join them at a free public singalong, saying “sprinkle ozdust over Madison Square Park with a sing-along at our @singforhope piano!” The event was covered by Playbill and included a ten-year-old girl singing the famous “Elphaba riff” at the end of Defying Gravity alongside the Broadway Cast, with international tourists cheering her on.
“Dancing through Life” to a Permanent Home
The Sing for Hope Piano’s true Emerald City, though, is the permanent home it found with the elementary school students of Harlem’s PS 194, one of 180 schools where Sing for Hope’s programs reach 80,000 students and community members each year. Beloved by all ages, Wicked is a brilliant show for an elementary audience to study: it examines unlikely friendships, peer pressure, good and evil, and the labels we place prematurely.
At the first installment of the creative arts programming Sing for Hope brings to its partner schools, the SFH team led students in an interactive story of their SFH Piano’s journey. They introduced students to the concept of “Citizen Artistry,” or using your art to make a difference in the community. Wicked cast members Emily Rogers and Lindsay Northen, and Wicked pianist Paul Loesel, treated PS 194 to exclusive performances of favorite songs from the show. They also shared insights on the SFH Piano painting process, the message of Wicked, and their hopes for the students’ future creative uses of their Sing for Hope Piano, titled “Dancing Through Life.”
A reunion on the Great White Way
Sing for Hope and Wicked deepened the partnership with a special gift to their new friends at PS 194: tickets for PS 194’s 5th grade to come see them on Broadway. This partnership continues far beyond the first year of the Sing for Hope Piano’s life: Wicked will host the fifth graders at the Gershwin Theater as an annual tradition, a graduation gift, and a culmination of their partnership with Wicked and Sing for Hope throughout their schooling at PS 194.
As the curtain closed at the Gershwin Theater on May 16th, PS 194 fifth grader Joseph turned to the Sing for Hope team and said, “I want to be one of those flying monkeys.” Well, Joseph, with this passion and your PS 194 teachers, Sing for Hope Artist Partners, and Wicked cast to support you, plus a custom Sing for Hope Piano lovingly designed by your Wicked friends to accompany every rehearsal, you just might.
(Just don’t forget to graduate from fifth grade first.)