Kristen Bell, Uzo Aduba, Andrew McCarthy and Cecily Strong Join Artistic Advisory Board to Support New York City After-School Theater Programming - WSMV Channel 4

Kristen Bell, Uzo Aduba, Andrew McCarthy and Cecily Strong Join Artistic Advisory Board to Support New York City After-School Theater Programming

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SOURCE Opening Act

NEW YORK, May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Opening Act, an innovative nonprofit that provides free after-school theater programming to New York City's most under-served public high schools, today announced the launch of its Artistic Advisory Board (AAB), whose members will serve as ambassadors of the organization. The launch of the AAB coincides with Opening Act's 8th Annual Benefit Play Reading at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway on May 12, 2014. Tickets are available to the public via www.telecharge.com - 1 800-447-7400.

We are thrilled to be welcoming great talent from across the theater, television, and film industries to bring attention to the need for impactful theater programming for New York City high school youth," said Suzy Myers Jackson, Executive Director of Opening Act. "The AAB's support makes it possible for us to fill the void in areas around New York City where there exists a tremendous arts shortage in public schools, giving students - often for the first time - an opportunity to have their voices heard and applauded. That transformative experience goes well beyond an artistic accomplishment; students tell us over and over again they wouldn't have graduated high school if it weren't for Opening Act."

Opening Act's star-studded AAB is comprised of 14 members committed to supporting the group's work in high-need New York City public high schools that have little to no arts education programming.  Board members include: Actors Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Kristen Bell (Frozen), Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink), and Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), as well as Opening Act advocates and supporters Marcus Gardley (playwright, dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory), Jared Gertner (actor, Book of Mormon), Richard Hester (production, Jersey Boys), Matt Hoverman (playwright, The Glint), Kobi Libii (actor, Amazon's Alpha House), Donald Margulies (playwright, Collected Stories), Michael Mastro (actor/director, West Side Story), Susan Mufson (Opening Act supporter), Lizabeth Newman (Opening Act supporter), and Jean Smart (actor, Designing Women).

"After participating in a Masterclass with Opening Act last fall, I found myself so impressed by the level of excitement from the students towards the organization and the level of passion coming from the educators," said AAB member Uzo Aduba. "Opening Act's determination to make a difference in these young lives through artistic expression is what has committed me to this organization. I believe in their mission and want nothing more than to be an aid on the beautiful road Opening Act has already paved."

Recent reports have shown that instruction in the arts is positively correlated with higher student grades and rates of college enrollment. However, in low-income areas like the South Bronx and central Brooklyn there exists a severe arts shortage. In fact, more than 42 percent of schools without a full-time, state-certified arts teacher are located in those areas. Opening Act strives to fill this void by providing their programming free of charge to these schools. Over ninety percent of Opening Act's programs are located in the South Bronx and Brooklyn.

The launch of Opening Act's AAB coincides with the 8th Annual Benefit Play Reading, starring Tony Award winners Courtney B. Vance (Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), and Lillias White (Fela!, The Life), as well as Uzo Aduba, in a one-night only reading of dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory, by Marcus Gardley, to benefit Opening Act's after-school theater programs.

Opening Act is a unique nonprofit that brings 12 free, long-term theater programs to 35 of New York City's most under-served public high schools. Through theater, Opening Act students gain confidence, pride, and the knowledge that they can succeed at anything in life. Opening Act's vision is to see that every New York City public school student has access to an artistic space where they can develop commitment, community, and leadership through their artistic achievement. Please visit www.openingactnewyork.org to learn more about Opening Act's programs.

8th Annual Play Reading of dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory
to benefit Opening Act
will take place on Monday, May 12, 2014, performance beginning at 7:00 P.M.
The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is located at 261 W. 47th Street in Manhattan.

Tickets are $550 Premium Ticket (best seating - includes a Rising Star Sponsorship in Opening Act's Adopt a School Program, which supports one student for an entire year of programming, program recognition, plus all benefits of a VIP ticket), $225 VIP Ticket (priority seating - includes admission to an exclusive Post-Show Discussion and champagne toast with the play's creative team and members of the cast, plus all benefits of an Event ticket), $150 Event Ticket (includes performance, open wine bar, and hors d'oeuvres)

For tickets - www.telecharge.com or 1 800-447-7400
For more information on the event and exclusive group ticket packages - www.openingactnewyork.org

Media Contact: Kate Perkins, Producer / 610-389-1219

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