When Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island in late October, East Rockaway High School was overcome by a tidal surge that caused an estimated $10 million worth of damage.
But as promised, the Rock is rising again and so are curtains in its auditorium, which were damaged along with the stage, the seats, props and flats when the theatre took on more than four feet of water during the storm.
NBC’s hit series “Smash,” home improvement retailer Lowe’s and iTheatrics have partnered to help schools across America improve their theaters through the “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical constructed by Lowe’s” initiative. The program launched Tuesday and will be administered by educational theater consultancy firm iTheatrics as “Smash” continues in its second season following its broadcast return earlier this month.
To kick-off the initiative, Broadway star and “Smash” cast member Jeremy Jordan, local Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers, Irwin Contracting, Inc. and volunteers from national non-profit Rebuilding Together joined together in early February to rebuild and restore East Rockaway High School’s auditorium.
Although Sandy derailed East Rockaway's plans to stage the musical Seussical at the beginning of February because the school's theatre was not functioning, the students in the cast performed excerpts from the show on a neighboring school district’s stage in order to raise additional funds to repair their auditorium.
“Our involvement in the East Rockaway High School project is a natural extension of Lowe’s commitment to provide both immediate and long-term support to the communities impacted by this historic storm,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “Our Lowe’s Heroes are eager to help the students at East Rockaway get their theater performance-ready and we’re excited to see the transformations that happen at other schools through the ‘Smash: Make a Musical constructed by Lowe’s’ program.”
East Rockaway Superintendent Dr. Roseanne Melucci added: “This isn’t just an auditorium; this is the heart of our school community. This is the stage our school community uses for public meetings, celebrations of student success and town halls. This is the stage where our students’ grandparents, mothers and fathers stood on to graduate from this school. And this year’s class of 2013 must continue in the tradition.”
Schools across America with theaters in need of repairs may apply for the “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical constructed by Lowe’s” initiative at makeamusical.org starting today. The program is sponsored by Lowe’s and NBC’s “Smash.” The deadline for applications is March 6.
On March 12, 30 finalists will be named and communities will compete to receive the most online votes before Wednesday, April 10. The top-five grand-prize winners will receive a gift card from Lowe’s to help renovate their theater.
Last season, “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” created musical theater programs in schools by giving educators and students the tools and training they needed to build self-sustaining programs in under-served schools.
The partnership was the catalyst for iTheatrics to produce 170 “Make a Musical” programs in schools across the U.S., with “NBC’s Smash’: Make a Musical” being directly responsible for creating 30 additional musical theater programs. “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” was awarded a 2012 Thalo Critics’ Choice Inspiration Award.