StageSmart Teaching Artists was inspired, in part, by the Jersey Boys “Soundtrack of Your Life" project, made possible through an audience development and education grant from The Broadway League in conjunction with TPAC Education, for which Beth Anne Musiker served as the sole teaching artist. The "Soundtrack of Your Life" project was designed to prepare students at Ft. Campbell H.S. (FCHS serves the families of the 101st Airborne Division) to experience the national touring production of Jersey Boys during its first visit to Nashville.
Chief, amongst the countless discoveries made throughout the project, was the realization that something “bigger” was taking place. Students with no prior theatre education or experience prepared for their opportunity to see Jersey Boys by exploring the same artistic challenges facing the show’s creators: How does one create a musical from the soundtrack and lives of its superstar subjects?
When it came time for the students to sit amongst the audience for Jersey Boys they were able to fully engage with the story being shared on stage. Their creative
explorations had provided a true understanding of the artistic choice-making involved in the creation of the piece, allowing them to connect deeply, despite not having their own nostalgic associations with the songs featured throughout the show. Every student involved expressed their new found desire to see more live theatre.
The good will and interest created by the Jersey Boys Project was contagious and included in-depth coverage by multiple media outlets provided with an enthusiasm matching that of the participants.
The project confirmed many times over that a real opportunity exists to adapt this experiential arts approach to create an audience engagement model capable of becoming a truly integrated and critically important aspect of touring shows.
What developed is StageSmart Teaching Artists - a program that provides touring Broadway shows with an effective and efficient audience development tool by means of an authentic engagement and education tool.