The Johnny Mercer Foundation and NJPAC Introduce New Jersey Middle School Students to the Magic of Musical Theater

Students Create Their Own Musical Production to be Performed at NJPAC on June 8

NEWARK, NJ – May 06, 2016 – Celebrating their fourth year of introducing New Jersey middle school students to the magic of musical theater, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) announced that three new schools and two new teaching artists have joined this year’s program.  The Johnny Mercer Foundation/NJPAC Musical Theater Residency Program offers students, in grades 6 to 8, an immersive study of the history of the American musical and the essential tools to create their own musical.

The three new schools are Terence C. Reilly School No. 7 in Elizabeth, Union Hill Middle School in Union City, and Abington Avenue School in Newark. These schools will join Harriet Tubman School in Newark and Heywood Avenue School in Orange, which are both participating for the second year.  Alexander Ratner and Madeline Calandrillo will join the team of NJPAC teaching artists, including Victor Burks, Daryl Stewart, Janeece Freeman-Clark, to implement this program unique to NJPAC.  

Beginning this spring, each residency, which is provided free through the generous donation of JMF to each school, will meet twice a week for 20 sessions. During these sessions, students learn the diverse history of the American musical, as well as the creation process of a new musical, including lyric writing, rehearsing and performing.  They develop their creativity, self-confidence, and ability to tell their own story through the medium of the American musical. Each class will create sections of a joint musical, which will culminated in a full, collaborative show on Wednesday, June 8 at 3pm in NJPAC’s Victoria Theater.   

“Self-expression is so important in education, and The Johnny Mercer Foundation is incredibly proud to partner with NJPAC to encourage students to express themselves through the writing of words and music,” stated JMF Vice President, Jonathan Brielle.

“We are delighted to host this one-of-a-kind musical theater program,” said Alison Scott-Williams, NJPAC’s Vice President of Arts Education. “To witness first-hand the growth of these middle school students as collaborators to write, rehearse and perform their own musical is thrilling. NJPAC is grateful to The Johnny Mercer Foundation for funding this extraordinary residency.”

The residencies help schools meet their curricular goals; NJPAC’s education programs are developed in accordance with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.  

This program is made possible by generous support from The Johnny Mercer Foundation.  Additional funding for Arts Education at NJPAC is provided by The Prudential Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, Merck Company Foundation and ADP.


The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook as exemplified by the life and work of the legendary Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer.  The Foundation continues Johnny’s legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered and the causes he and his wife Ginger Mercer championed.

JMF has created a number of dynamic creative partnerships with several prestigious institutions to facilitate our goals including; the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, Georgia State University Fellowship Program, Florida International University Fellowship Program, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University and the Johnny Mercer Archives at Georgia State University, In addition, JMF also supports various charitable causes including UCLA’s Art of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series.

For more information please visit


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the State’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

Media Contact
Company Name: Howard R. Miller Communications
Contact Person: Mario Sancarranco
Phone: 3055730882
Address:3009 NE Quayside Lane
City: Miami
State: Florida
Country: United States