FEATURE: How Harmony Helper Is Helping Performers During COVID-19

The entertainment industry has temporarily shut down in light of COVID-19, cancelling performances, productions, rehearsals, camps, and more. In spite of this, some productions have chosen to soldier on – virtually – and present their productions via video chat or YouTube. One app hopes to alleviate any stress during virtual rehearsals is Harmony Helper, an app designed to help singers learn vocal parts on-the-go. We spoke with Andrew Goren, founder and CEO of Harmony Helper, to learn more about the app’s role during a time of social distancing.

How has this app’s role changed since social distancing began?
Music is an important expression of creativity, artistry and humanity. It brings comfort and healing in times of stress and can help us to express feelings differently than we would simply with words. Our vision for Harmony Helper has remained the same during this time, and that is to empower singers with the tools, opportunities and confidence to deliver their best performance and to provide teachers and choral directors with a comprehensive learning tool that augments the important work they do to help their students and choir members. While most all performances and in-person rehearsals continue to be on hold, the app works as a “digital rehearsal room in your back pocket.” It has continued to give singers, of any skill level, a place to focus beyond the stress of the pandemic, and allows them to practice today, for tomorrow. We’re proud to give singers a tool to help them on their singing journey, even though this part of the journey is at home.

2) Any new features in the app you want to share?
Harmony Helper is continuing to build new and exciting features that are largely driven by the suggestions and needs of the singing community, which we welcome on our website. In an effort to do our part for those in the community who have been impacted by COVID-19, we teamed up with Alex Brightman, Rob McClure and Jelani Remy to raise money for the Actor’s Fund with our campaign #Hear1Sing1. The campaign invited participants to sing the chorus of their favorite Broadway song and challenge followers to do the same. This campaign sparked lots of participation and helped us to raise donations to help relief efforts. We also launched the #15Dollarsfor15Days Campaign. For this initiative, we donated to relief organizations that help artists who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus.

3) How did the special partnership with the Roger Rees Awards come about?
A few years ago at BroadwayCon, we crossed paths with Camp Broadway, an organization that offers musical theater programs for kids of all experience levels, taught by Broadway professionals. When we connected, we learned that we shared a passion for theatre education and youth enrichment programs. They serve as the program administrator and showcase producer of the Roger Rees awards and included us in this year‘s event. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in the Roger Rees awards along with influential and impactful organizations like Camp Broadway.

4) What has the feedback been like from this year’s participants?
We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from this year’s participants. Several singers have told Christine Riley, the music director of the Roger Rees Awards, that Harmony Helper helped them prepare for the awards ceremony and that it has allowed them to truly master their part ahead of time. We’re happy to know that Harmony Helper is truly making a difference in how singers of all levels rehearse and master their vocal parts.

5) How do you picture Harmony Helper’s future in relation to social distancing guidelines considering a day where social distancing rules are lifted hasn’t been set yet?
While the rest of the world has shifted to video calls during this crisis, it has not been as smooth as a transition for choir and theatre performers to practice with their peers remotely. With no set timeline to open theatres and as the required distancing of choirs becomes the norm, Harmony Helper will continue to help singers and performance groups deliver their best performance by equipping them with the tools necessary to tackle even the most complex songs. The app generates a custom vocal part to practice based on your answers to a few simple questions after using the sheet-music scanner. Our real-time feedback feature then tracks your pitch to help users see whether they are above, below, or on key. Users also can use our 5-step guided approach to learning — all from the app, on their own, at home.

To learn more about Harmony Helper, visit harmonyhelper.com.

300+ Anti-Racist Resources for Families

We at Young Broadway Actor News have been listening to the ongoing conversations concerning Black Lives Matter. As we poured through resources to combat racism, we felt that sharing a listicle and walking away would not be enough. This is due to two reasons: 1) we recognize that the serious and unjust issues regarding the black community today must be addressed and 2) we are inspired by the younger generation who wishes to learn more about today’s issues to create a better and brighter world tomorrow. Over the past week, we have gathered over 300 resources for parents, kids, teens, and families to discuss racism with one and other in an age-appropriate way. All resources have been categorized by age group, which were determined by the particular resource’s author, publisher, or press release. The age recommendations are guides. It is up to each individual parent to decide what is appropriate for their children when considering their maturity level and emotional intelligence. On the flip side, feel free to explore the materials listed in a younger age group if you are a member of an older age group listed here.

The resources below include the following:

  • Books, movies, TV, documentaries, and theatre that discuss race, acceptance, civic engagement, police brutality, the black experience, and much more in an age appropriate way. We wanted to include media that not only educates the viewer on the issues of today, but to also diversify the type of people they see on screen and on stage. Some pieces of art are non-fiction looks at our current world. Others are positive examples of fictional works designed to entertain.
  • Articles for parents created as a starting point for talking to children about race.
  • Mental health/self care resources for people of all ages during this especially scary time.

We recognize that this list alone will not stop racism completely. However, we see this as a starting point for long-lasting change – both in your own community and the world at large.

We are always open to adding more to our list. Feel free to contact us at admin@youngbway.org for more additions.

Books

Please consider purchasing these books at any of the black-owned bookstores HERE or HERE.

Books

Book Title Author
A Letter To Amy Ezra Jack Keats
Antiracist Baby Ibram X. Kendi
Full, Full, Full of Love Trish Cooke
Happy In Our Skin Fran Manushkin
Hi, Cat! Ezra Jack Keats
Skin Like Mine LaTashia M. Perry
The Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats
We're Different, We're the Same Bobbi Jane Kates
When's My Birthday? Julie Fogliano
Whistle for Willie Ezra Jack Keats
Woke Baby Mahogany L. Browne
Book Title Author
All Are Welcome Alexandra Penfold
Amazing Grace Mary Hoffman
Black is a Rainbow Color Angela Joy
Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can You Be? Ameshia Arthur
Chocolate Me Taye Diggs
Coretta Scott Ntozake Shange
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Derrick Barnes
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America Carole Boston Weatherford
Hair Love Matthew A Cherry
Hands Up! Breanna J. McDaniel
Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills Renée Watson
I Am Brown Ashok Banker
I Am Enough Grace Byers
I am Rosa Parks Brad Meltzer
I AM... Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys Ayesha Rodriguez
In Plain Sight Richard Jackson
It's In You Sharifa Anozie
Last Stop on Market Street Matt de la Peña
Let's Talk About Race Julius Lester
Mariama: Different But Just the Same Jerónimo Cornelles
Mixed Me! Taye Diggs
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom Carole Boston Weatherford
My Hair is a Garden Cozbi A. Cabrera
Not Quite Snow White Ashley Franklin
Over and Under the Pond Kate Messner
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis Jabari Asim
Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu Ylleya Fields
Princess Hair Sharee Miller
Remember: The Journey to School Integration Toni Morrison
Rosa Nikki Giovanni
Same, Same But Different Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Saturday Oge Mora
Skin Again Bell Hooks
Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride Andrea Davis Pinkney
Something Happened in Our Town Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
Sulwe Lupita Nyong'o
The Airport Book Lisa Brown
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage: The Fight for Interracial Marriage Selina Alko
The Colors of Us Karen Katz
The Day You Begin Jacqueline Woodson
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne Carole Boston Weatherford
The Other Side Jacqueline Woodson
The Skin I'm In: A First Look at Racism Pat Thomas
The Skin You Live In Michael Tyler
The Youngest Marcher Cynthia Levinson
Today I Dance Nia Sioux
Book Title Author
A Good Kind of Trouble Lisa Moore Ramée
A Ride to Remember Sharon Langley
Blended Sharon M. Draper
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground Rita Williams-Garcia
Each Kindness Jacqueline Woodson
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History Walter Dean Myers
From the Desk of Zoe Washington Janae Marks
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters Andrew Davis Pinkney
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History Vashti Harrison
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X Ilyasah Shabazz
Ruth and the Green Book Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond Brenda Woods
The Only Black Girls in Town Brandy Colbert
The Season of Styx Malone Kekla Magoon
The Story of Ruby Bridges Robert Coles
The Undefeated Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
The Zero Degree Zombie Zone Patrik Henry Bass
Twintuition: Double Vision Tia and Tamera Mowry
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged! Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices Wade Hudson, Cheryl Willis Hudson
Book Title Author
As Brave As You Jason Reynolds
Because They Marched Russell Freedman
Blackbird Fly Erin Entrada Kelly
Bud, Not Buddy Christopher Paul Curtis
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship Irene Latham, Charles Waters
For Black Girls Like Me Mariama J. Lockington
Full Cicada Moon Marilyn Hilton
Genesis Begins Again Alicia D. Williams
Ghost Boys Jewell Parker Rhodes
Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly
Hold Fast Blue Balliett
In The Shadow of Liberty Kenneth C. Davis
Inside Out and Back Again Thanhha Lai
It All Comes Down to This Karen English
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History Vashti Harrison
New Kid Jerry Craft
Ninth Ward Jewell Parker Rhodes
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness Anastasia Higginbotham
One Crazy Summer Rita Williams-Garcia
P.S. Be Eleven Rita Williams-Garcia
Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice Veronica Chambers
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach Brenda Woods
Sanity & Tallulah Molly Brooks
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Stella by Starlight Sharon M. Draper
The Crossover Kwame Alexander
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer Lamar Giles
The Mighty Miss Malone Christopher Paul Curtis
Tight Torrey Maldonado
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer Carole Boston Weatherford
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Carole Boston Weatherford
Zora and Me Victoria Bond & T. R. Simon
Book Title Author
A Few Drops of Red: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Claire Hartfield
All American Boys Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
All Boys Aren't Blue George M. Johnson
All the Right Stuff Walter Dean Myers
Are You Being Racially Profiled? Alexandra Hanson-Harding
Black Boy, White School Brian F.Walker
Black Lives Matter (Special Reports) Sue Bradford Edwards, Duchess Harris
Boy21 Matthew Quick
Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance Simone Biles, Michelle Burford
Darius & Twig Andrea Beach
Dear Martin Nic Stone
Discovering Wes Moore Wes Moore
Electric Arches Eve Ewing
Girls Resist! Kaelyn Rich
How I Resist Maureen Johnson (edited)
How It Went Down Kekla Magoon
Hush Jacqueline Woodson
I Am Alfonso Jones Tony Medina
I'm Not Dying With You Tonight Gilly Segal, Kimberly Jones
Jackpot Nic Stone
Just Mercy Bryan Stevenson
Let Me Hear a Rhyme Tiffany D. Jackson
Long Way Down Jason Reynolds
Malcom X: By Any Means Necessary Walter Dean Myers
March: Book One John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Mare's War Tanita Davis
Miles Morales: Spider-Man Jason Reynolds
Obviously, Stories from My Timeline Akilah Hughes
Piecing Me Together Renée Watson
Saving Savannah Tonya Bolden
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Stolen Justice Lawrence Goldstone
The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
The Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights Steve Shenkin
The Self-Love Revolution Virgie Tovar
The Sun Is Also a Star Nicola Yoon
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom Lynda Blackmon Lowery
Tyler Johnson Was Here Jay Coles
We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide Carol Anderson
White Privilege M.T. Blakemore
Book Title Author
Sula Toni Morrison
The Color Purple Alice Walker
The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae
When You Ask Me Where I’m Going Jasmin Kaur
Who Put This Song On? Morgan Parker
Book Title Author
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America Jennifer Harvey
So You Want To Talk About Race Ijeoma Oluo

Movies/TV/Documentaries

Theatre

NameAuthorAge RecommendationNotes
In My Granny's Garden Alliance Theater Now streaming on Alliance Theater's website for a limited time!
NameAuthorAge RecommendationNotes
The Wiz (2015 version) Smalls and Brown Playing through June 14th at 2pm EST on YouTube! Check out the cast album on Spotify and purchase the entire show on Amazon Prime for $3.
NameAuthor
Jitney August Wilson
NameAuthor
A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry
A Solider's Play Charles Fuller
Ain't Too Proud Dominique Morisseau ft. music from The Temptations
An Octoroon Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Behind the Sheet Charly Evon Simpson
Fences August Wilson
Hurt Village Katori Hall
Intimate Apparel Lynn Nottage
Our Lady of Kibeho Katori Hall
Passing Strange Rodewald and Dorsen
Pipeline Dominique Morisseau
Radio Golf August WIlson
Ruined Lynn Nottage
Sarafina! Mbongeni Ngema
Shuffle Along Miller, Lyles, Sissle, and Blake
Superior Donuts Tracy Letts
The Light Loy E Webb
The Mountaintop Katori Hall
NameAuthorNotes
A Strange Loop Michael R. Jackson
Ain't No Mo' Jordan E. Cooper
All the Natalie Portmans C.A. Johnson
An Octoroon Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Barbecue Robert O’Hara
BLKS Aziza Barnes
Blues for Mister Charlie James Baldwin
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Lynn Nottage
Choir Boy Tarell McCraney
Clybourne Park Bruce Norris
Crooked Parts Azure D Osborne-Lee
Fairview Jackie Sibblies Drury
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf Ntozake Shange
Girls Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Glass Azure D. Osborne-Lee
I Know I Know I Know C.A. Johnson
Joe Turner's Come and Gone August Wilson
Kill Move Paradise James Ijames Streaming now through June 21st; https://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=5950
Last Night and the Night Before Donnetta Lavinia Grays
Neighbors Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Pass Over Antoinette Nwandu
Scraps Geraldine Inoa
Six Degrees of Separation John Guare
Slave Play Jeremy O. Harris
Stick Fly Lydia Diamond
Sugar In Our Wounds Donja R. Love
The Beasts of Warren Azure D Osborne-Lee
The Climb C.A. Johnson
The Piano Lesson August Wilson
The Scottsboro Boys David Thompson; Kander & Ebb
Thirst C.A. Johnson
Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks
Twilight: Los Angeles Anna Deavere Smith
War Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
What to Send Up When It Goes Down Aleshea Harris
Where We Stand Donnetta Lavinia Grays
White Noise Suzan-Lori Parks
Witness Uganda Griffin Matthews
Yellowman Dael Orlandersmith

Note: Most of the musicals/plays listed above contain links for where to find them, including links to purchase scripts, view montages, and interviews with the playwright.

Lists of more black playwrights:
Ten Major African-American Playwrights
Queer Black Playwrights to Know and Support

Articles/Websites

Mental Health/Self Care

INTERVIEW: “Lulu the Broadway Mouse” Author Jenna Gavigan Returns with Sequel “The Show Must Go On”!

Jenna Gavigan is returning to bookshelves on March 31st with Lulu, the singing, dancing mouse she introduced to us in 2018! Jenna made her Broadway debut at age 16 in the Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters. She then expanded her career with work on TV in shows like “Madam Secretary” and “The Knick” and movies like “Deliver Us From Evil”. After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing, she published her first novel Lulu the Broadway Mouse, which was met with a great amount of praise from theatre fans and professionals alike. Now she’s back with a sequel called Lulu the Broadway Mouse: The Show Must Go On! We spoke with her about writing a sequel, showing readers the realities of working on Broadway, and meeting today’s Broadway kids. Read on for a super fun interview with great nuggets of advice for kids and adults alike:

You’re back for a sequel after a highly successful debut! Take us through the process to create the plot of the second book.
I knew I wanted to throw Lulu & company an immediate curveball. I have experience with a show that was given its closing notice surprisingly soon—and it happens to almost every performer, at one time or another—so I decided that would be the main “problem” of this book. In my pitch for the book, I wrote a summary and the first few chapters, but also a beat sheet, which is very common in the early stages of television writing—no reason it can’t be used in book writing as well! Basically: A,B,C,D storylines, in one short, sentence. So, I, and my editor and publisher, were able to very clearly see my planned plot points, with the show’s closing notice being the A plot.

What’s the most rewarding and most challenging thing about writing a sequel?
I basically spent all of 2019 writing and editing this book. On January 1 I had a few chapters written, and by Christmas, the finished copies of the book were in a box in my apartment. It was a really joyful and fulfilling way to spend a year. Challenging? Hmmm…well, writing and editing a book in one year was also challenging! And I needed to make sure the second book stayed consistent with the first book as far as characters and their behaviors and relationships, but that it also felt fresh and was able to stand on its own.

The book starts out by delivering the bad news and introducing a major plot point within the first couple of pages before catching us up on the backstage life of this show, which I appreciated as it creates some heartbreak on the reader’s behalf as they keep reading while knowing what’s to come. What was the reason behind that decision?
I thought starting off exactly where we ended the first book lacked energy and urgency. Things would be too sunny and easy. Letting the readers know right at the top of the book that the show is closing will, I hope, keep readers engaged in and committed to the fate of Lulu & company.

What I enjoy the most about the first and second books is that they not only celebrate the wonderful parts about working on Broadway, but they also delve a bit more into the not-so-wonderful parts of the business (i.e. rejections, growing out of a role, etc.). How do you balance out what to include in the book that’s age appropriate and accurate enough for the reader but also keeps the wonder of Broadway intact?
I have been in this business for 20 + years, but I still find the theatre magical, and the wonder of Broadway remains very much intact for me. That said, I have experienced a lot of rejection, horrible auditions, moments of wondering if I should keep doing this…and a lot of that happened while I was still a kid! It’s just the reality of show business and life as an artist. I never want to dissuade a kid from pursuing their dream; I very much want to encourage them. But I also think that knowing the reality of what you’re entering into can actually be really helpful. It’s not all perfect and dreamy all the time, but when it is, it really is. I am writing from a place of experience while also honoring the kid I was: the kid who just wanted to be on Broadway. I try to just find a gentle, honest balance between the two.

Another aspect of the books I love so much is how you treated the gossip columnist T. Mason in the sequel (as well as Amanda in the first book). Both are essentially the “antagonists” of the respective books, but at one point you organically gave them these real human characteristics that we all have. They’re not just dramatic characters thrown in to advance the plot and create conflict (the way T. Mason’s storyline wraps up is beautiful). What was the process behind developing T. Mason’s character and her subplot?
A story without an antagonist can often be a boring and unrealistic story, so like it or not, we need our antagonists! That said, I truly believe no one is cruel or mean for no reason. We learn by the end of the first book why Amanda behaves the way she behaves, so I knew it was important to do the same with T. Mason, who takes over as this book’s antagonist, since Amanda has changed her ways. As actors (and authors!) we deal with critics and reviews—and we also deal with gossip and lies. Introducing the character of an anonymous theatre critic felt like a dramatic yet realistic plot point for Lulu’s story. I also think it’s important to show kids that adults struggle with bullies and bullying, just as kids do. And that adults are often the bullies themselves! But, as with Amanda, we learn what motivates T. Mason’s behavior, making the character more human and less of a generic big bad wolf.

Now as an adult, which character do you relate to the most and why?
Hmmm…I don’t know if I can choose! There are bits of myself and my experiences in so many of these characters. I relate to H.H. in one way, and Amanda in another. Lulu in one way, and her mom in another!

You mention in the Acknowledgements section that you recently performed with Growing Up Broadway, which produces a series of (fantastic) cabarets with current Broadway kids and with Broadway kids who are now grownups. Tell us a bit more about getting involved in that. What was it like connecting (or re-connecting) with the all-grown-up Broadway kids who share a similar experience? What was it like meeting the current Broadway kids? And has any of that experience informed what we will eventually see in the sequel?
Dara, who runs the series, asked me to participate and I was happy to do it! She and I were child actors at the same time, though we never knew each other. (Good odds we sat nervously in an audition waiting room together, though.) It’s so nice to see the that all-grown-up kids still enjoying rehearsing and performing, and it was really a treat to meet this generation’s young performers. They are so talented and hard working. I think what makes things harder for this generation is social media. Everyone knows everything, everything is posted, it’s hard to get away from things. For those of us who got started in the late 90s, there was none of that. You were able to escape and take a break and just forget about the rejection or who got what job and all that. These kids, it seems to be in their faces at all times. Though they seem to handle it well. One of the young performers mentioned how bullying is very real—especially when going back to regular school—so I was glad bullying was already a plot point in the sequel. Not glad she was experiencing that, but glad that I was able to put it in the book to shine a light on it, and hopefully help these kids deal with it.

What do you hope kids will take away from this book both as a person but also as maybe someone who wants to pursue a career in professional theatre?
Please, please, please, be grateful when you work. Be humble. Know it can all go away in the blink of an eye, and maybe never come back. Know that you are a part of a TEAM. While it is hard not to focus solely on yourself, your track, your career, you must try. Every person who is involved in the show—onstage and off—they are all equally important. People will remember your offstage behavior as much as your onstage performance. Be the person who is remembered as kind, hardworking and easy to work with.

What advice do you have for anyone (child or adult) who wants to become a writer (especially if they’re already an actor and not sure if they want to take the leap and pursue both)?
Read!! Reading will make you a better writer. Also, just give it a shot. Journal, write short stories, write plays, write a full novel…just have fun with it! Writing is another way to exercise your creative tendencies; it is another way of playing make-believe. And much like with show business: be prepared for notes, be prepared for criticism, be prepared for rejection. None of this means you’re not meant to be doing what you’re doing. It’s all just a part of the work. (Also: “write what you know” is real. It’s not cheating—it’s a really helpful jumping off point.)

SPEED ROUND

Favorite thing to do in NYC?
Go to the theatre, obviously! Actually: perform on stage at a theatre! That said, I also love a sunny spring or fall day that’s spent walking around a beautiful neighborhood like the West Village.
Favorite place to eat in NYC?
This is a really tough question. We’re so lucky to have so many wonderful restaurants! I’ll say I Sodi on Christopher Street. Delish. Small. Great drinks and pasta. And it’s already really tough to get into so I’m not outing an unknown gem.
Broadway dream role
Can anyone really pick one?? Ok: I’d love to jump on the “two performers trade places every other show” train and say both Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
If you could swap roles with anyone on Broadway (male or female) right now for one night only, who would it be?
I think playing King George in Hamilton would be a blast.
If someone wrote a musical about your life, what would it be called and what would be the name of its show-stopping number?
Title of Musical: So Many Hats
Title of Song: “Balance”


Huge thanks to Jenna and the people at Running Press Kids for making this interview happen! Pick up your copy of Lulu the Broadway Mouse: The Show Must Go On HERE, which is set to arrive on March 31st. If you haven’t ready Lulu the Broadway Mouse yet, you can also order it HERE.

FEATURE: Youngest Uncle and Niece Both Acting on Broadway

Jesus Del Orden and Sophia Rodriguez have a lot in common: they’re both on Broadway and, most importantly, they’re family.

Jesus started his Broadway career at 9 years-old when he got the role of Young Lola on Broadway’s Kinky Boots, and he got to work with renowned performers like Wayne Brady, Brendan Urie and Billy Porter at such a young age. Now, three years later, he is about to finish his one-year run as Young Simba on Disney’s The Lion King. Little did he know that his whole family would become involved. Back in September, his own little niece began her Broadway journey as Lulu on Waitress.

They are currently performing together, just two blocks down from each other, every week on big stages alongside prodigious actors, singers, and Broadway performers.

This uncle-niece duo seem to be able to accomplish just anything.

Jesus Del Orden made his Broadway debut appearing as Young Lola in Kinky Boots for two years. He is currently playing Young Simba in The Lion King. His last show with the Disney show will Be on November 17th. TV/Film Credits: Sunny Day Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Life. Jesus would like to thank his family, his Manager Susan Rybin and acting classes at Rybin Studio of Drama, Agent Barry Kolker, singing teacher Tristian Wyant.

Sophia is excited to be making her Broadway debut as Lulu in Waitress. She is playing Jordin Spark’s on stage daughter until November 23rd. Sophia loves dancing, singing and gymnastics. She gives thanks to her whole family for believing in her and traveling with her to auditions, her manager Susan Rybin of Rybin Talent Management and to her agent Barry Kolker.

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Remembering Laurel Griggs

We are saddened to report the passing of Laurel Griggs (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Once) at the age of 13. Laurel was a brilliant young lady whose impact in the lives of everyone she met went far beyond her immense talent. Her wisdom and kindness were gifts to the theatre community during her time on Earth.

She made her Broadway debut at the age of 6 in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Aftewards, Laurel joined the Broadway company of Once, where she played the role for 17 months – the longest-running Ivanka in the Broadway production’s history. Her career continued with TV and film, such as the animated series “Bubble Guppies” and her multiple appearances on the legendary “Saturday Night Live”. Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.

Friends and family can leave messages and honor her memory via a donation to Broadway Cares at Dignity Memorial.

Below, we remember Laurel through highlights via pictures and videos.

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Harmony Helper Unveils First App to Give Singers a 24/7 Digital Rehearsal Room that Delivers Better Performances

 

New Singer Learning Tool includes the
First and Only Customizable Sheet Music Scanner

 

MOUNT LAUREL, NEW JERSEY – 29 October, 2019Harmony Helper ®, the premier app that provides singers the convenience and control of a 24/7 digital rehearsal room anytime, anywhere – today announced the full launch of the first and only product that adds customizable sheet music scanning to simplify practicing and help singers deliver their best performance. The Harmony Helper app allows singers that cannot afford a vocal coach or rehearsal space to develop the skill levels they need to make the most of their time in the spotlight. It levels the playing field for amateurs and pros alike.

Based on patented technology, the app is the first comprehensive, easy-to-use learning tool that features accurate real-time feedback, vocal part customization, pitch tracking, record/playback, and vocal part volume control.

“As a musical theatre actor myself, I know that old school rehearsals can leave you feeling frustrated and unprepared,” said Andrew Goren, founder and CEO of Harmony Helper. “With Harmony Helper, everyone has access to the professional-caliber tools they need, whether they’re singing at home for friends or rehearsing for a Broadway audition. With great rehearsals come great confidence. Now every singer can deliver the performance of their lives.”

Harmony Helper’s new customizable sheet music scanning feature is the first and only of its kind. Users simply upload or take a photo of their sheet music. Harmony Helper then uses Optical Music Recognition (OMR) technology to auto-generate vocal parts. The user then creates their own custom vocal part by answering a few questions about the song. The song is then translated into an easy-to-read piano roll format with accompaniment and flexible part volume controls, giving singers the ability to isolate specific vocal parts and sound while practicing. This unique feature makes all music available to practice the moment a singer is ready to begin learning. For singers who are just learning or struggle with reading sheet music, this patented technology eliminates the friction to allow the aspiring singer to practice. Performers no longer need to be dependent on scheduling time with accompanists to play and record music, and the real-time feedback feature takes away the stress of scheduling with a coach to quickly prepare for an audition or performance.

“Harmony Helper is an indispensable educational resource that will change how every individual and music group approaches learning music,” said Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director, Paper Mill Playhouse. “Harmony Helper solves a myriad of logistical issues facing performers and beginners while giving students the confidence they need to master their music. I consider this app a true game-changer for the arts industry.”

“Learning to sing requires only one really big commitment: practice. Harmony Helper allows you to practice singing anytime, while simultaneously training both your brain and ear,” said Rob McClure, Tony-nominated actor and artistic advisor at Harmony Helper. “Unlike other apps on the market, Harmony Helper makes it possible for singers to practice any song they want with no song library limit. The sheet music scanner feature puts control back into the singer’s hands, without having to impose on your Musical Director or accompanist to record their individual parts. As a Broadway performer, this is incredibly valuable and a first for the industry.”

Harmony Helper’s transformative features include:

  • Sheet Music scanning/conversion: Allows singers to simply take a photo of any sheet music or upload directly into the app. Using OMR technology, written music is converted to MusicXML and MIDI so it can be viewed in a piano roll format, heard, and rehearsed.
  • Vocal part customization: Singers create their custom vocal part for a more personalized experience.
  • Real-time feedback: Patented pitch tracker accurately visualizes the singer’s pitch and timing in real-time, calibrated to their abilities and level of expertise.
  • Vocal Part Volume Controls: Hear the song in a multitude of different ways using volume controls for vocal parts, metronome, and accompaniment.
  • Guided Approach to Learning: Patented 5-Step Approach to Learning and Holding Harmonies equips singers with the necessary tools to tackle even the most complex songs, so they can walk into every live performance or rehearsal confidently prepared.
  • Easy Record and Playback: Listen to a song anytime and anywhere, then step into a quiet room to record/practice. Then listen to the recording take alone or with other vocal parts.

In the coming months, Harmony Helper will be announcing the general release of its group sharing features. The patented technology will enable music directors, coaches, and teachers to seamlessly share songbooks and instructions with performers and group members. Performers will receive their music via the app and can easily isolate their part so they can practice on their own time, not just when the director or accompanist is available.

Pricing:

  • Free 7-day trial (unlimited songs)
  • Monthly subscription (unlimited songs): $4.99
  • Annual subscription (unlimited songs): $49.99

Availability:

Harmony Helper is now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Harmony Helper is a singer’s best friend and the only app that utilizes patented technologies to provide singers with the convenience and control of a 24/7 digital rehearsal room anytime, anywhere, regardless of skill level. Harmony Helper improves singing accuracy and builds confidence, helping singers and performance groups deliver their best performances. The innovative learning tool is easy-to-use and complete with the most comprehensive list of features, including part customization, sheet music scanning, real-time feedback, vocal part volume control and a novel 5-step approach to mastering a song. Founded in 2017 by CEO and founder Andrew Goren, Harmony Helper is comprised of a passionate team of expert technologists, seasoned entrepreneurs, and well-respected Broadway performers and performance experts. For more information, visit https://harmonyhelper.com.

Robert Montano and Carlos Carreras Join CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, THE ROSE TATTOO Begins Previews, and more!

Congrats to Robert Montano and Carlos Carreras who have been cast in this year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular! This is Robert’s 3rd year and Carlos’s 1st year!

Happy 1st preview to The Rose Tattoo! The show officially opens on October 15th.

Beetlejuice released a longer clip of “Dead Mom” feat. Sophia Anne Caruso! Watch below.

Makayla Joy Connolly made her Broadway debut in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this week! Check out the pictures below.

The Tony Awards have announced that the 2020 ceremony will take place on June 7th, airing on CBS at 8/7c. Nominations will be announced on April 28th.

Earlier this week, I (Lindsay) went to see Inland Valley Repertory Theater’s production of Fun Home (feat. Broadway alum Maya Grace Fischbein) at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont, CA! Congratulations on a great performance, Maya!

“Fancy Nancy”, a Disney Junior show starring Mia Sinclair Jenness (Les Miserables), has been renewed for a 3rd season! Season 2 begins airing on October 4th.

Taylor Richardson (Annie, Smokefall, A Christmas Memory) has been cast in a new Netflix film “Sorta Like A Rock Star”. Click HERE for more info.

Joshua Turchin (Forbidden Broadway, The Pill) has booked a voiceover gig. More details coming soon.

Cate Elefante (Waitress) was on the set of a commercial this week! We will let you know when it begins to air.

We have some more videos from (YOUNG)! Take a look below.

 

 

 

 

And here are pictures and videos from the kids of Beetlejuice and Make Believe!


 

 

 

 


Scarlett Sher Joins WAITRESS, WAITING FOR GODOT Announces Auditions, and more!

Congratulations to Scarlett Sher who will make her Broadway debut as Lulu next week in Waitress alongside the previously announced Delaney Quinn!

Theatre for a New Audience will present an Off-Broadway production of Waiting for Godot in Spring 2020 and they are holding an EPA for all roles, including a role for a young actor! Please see this audition notice for more information. Are you a non-Equity performer who wishes to attend this Equity audition? Please see ActorsAesthetic.com for advice.

Make Believe opened last night! Check out pictures from opening night at Broadway World as well as below:

Eleanor Koski (Les Miserables) will bring Sounds from the Heart to Green Room 42 on August 25th at 2pm at Green Room 42! The lineup includes Broadway and tour alumni such as: Diego Lucano (School of Rock), Gianna Harris (School of Rock), Eli Tokash (Finding NeverlandMary Poppins), Nirvaan Paul (School of Rock), and Shereen Pimentel (The Lion King). Get tickets HERE.

The Public Theater has released new highlights from Mojada! Watch below:

 

 

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Rachel Resheff (ShrekBilly Elliot, et al.) has booked a new film called “Giving Birth to a Butterfly”! Check out behind-the-scenes pictures below:

 

 

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Kaylin Hedges (Kris Kringle) has been cast in Loch Ness in central New York at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! The production will open this fall. Go to fingerlakesmtf.com for more information.

Brooke Timber (Ballyturk) is currently appearing in an ad campaign for The Children’s Place’s Back to School line! Get a peek at an ad below.

 

 

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And lastly, Elliana Walmsley (Radio City Christmas Spectacular) filmed a special video with Carnival Cruise Line and Dance Celebrity! Watch below:

 

 

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Happy Opening to MAKE BELIEVE, Delaney Quinn Joins WAITRESS, and more!

Make Believe opens tonight at Second Stage! Congratulations to the entire company! Check out the newly released production photos HERE.

Congratulations to Delaney Quinn, who is making her Broadway debut in Waitress as Lulu! She follows in the footsteps of her older sister, Fiona, who is currently appearing as Young Anna in Frozen.

Congrats to Michaela Perez, who completes the cast of Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, playing at Second Stage Theater this fall!

NYCGO’s Broadway Week is happening next month! This is a bi-annual opportunity where theatregoers can buy 2-for-1 tickets for participating Broadway shows, like Beetlejuice, Waitress, and more. Go to NYCGO.com for details.

The newest episode of Beetlejuice‘s Broadway.com vlog is here! Watch Presley Ryan teach co-star Leslie Kritzer how to become a VSCO girl below:

And here are more pictures from the kids and teens of Beetlejuice, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King, and Waitress!

 

 

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Young Broadway Alumni in Film, JOSEPH Might Come To Broadway, And More!

Today, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” (with Isabela Moner), “The Kitchen” (with Gabriel Rush and Maren Heary), and “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” (with Gabriel Rush) arrive in theaters! Be sure to see them!

The current London production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is rumored to arrive on Broadway once its London run is complete. More details to come!

Congratulations to The Lion King alum and “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin who is set to star in the upcoming film “Concrete Cowboys” with Idris Elba! Get more details HERE.

London Skye Gilliam (Waitress) can be seen modeling for Nike!

 

 

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And check out more pictures from the kids of Frozen, The Lion King, Make Believe, and Waitress!

 

 

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