Broadway's Kimberly Akimbo is getting meta. The Jeanine Tesori-David Lindsay-Abaire musical, currently running at the Booth Theatre and nominated for eight 2023 Tony Awards including Best Musical, has invited three NYC-area public high school show choirs to perform onstage, making their Broadway debuts. Students will perform a specially-arranged song from the Tony-nominated score.
Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts is kicking off the series May 18, with Professional Performing Arts High School following May 25 and Talent Unlimited High School June 1. Each performance will happen immediately following the Kimberly Akimbo performance.
The stunt mirrors a storyline in the musical, with four high school-aged show choir members spending their semester prepping to beat their rivals at West Orange with a medley of songs from Dreamgirls. It's also only one of the musical's several initiatives looking to give a boost to local arts students. The production has also launched the Great Adventure Grants, which will fund three local high school musical productions next year. The initial recipients of the grants are Mount Vernon's Denzel Washington School of the Arts, Seacaucus' High Tech High School, and Queens' Pan American International High School. Each recipient will receive $10,000, with the production planning to continue the program annually.
“We so appreciate the producers helping to make the show accessible for NYC public school students,” says Peter Avery, Director of Theater for New York City Public Schools, in a statement. “It is even more inspiring for them to invite some of our young artists to perform on the very stage where the Kimberly Akimbo Broadway cast performs nightly.”
With music by Tesori and a book and lyrics by Lindsay-Abaire adapted from his play, Kimberly Akimbo follows Kimberly, a bright New Jersey teenager with an aging disease that makes her look like a 72-year-old lady even though she's just 16.
Directed by Jessica Stone and featuring choreography by Danny Mefford, the production began performances at Broadway's Booth Theatre October 12, 2022, and officially opened November 10 after a world premiere run Off-Broadway in 2021 via Atlantic Theater Company. Read the reviews for the Broadway bow here.
The complete Off-Broadway cast transferred with the musical to Broadway, led by Tony winner Victoria Clark in the title role. Also starring are Justin Cooley in his Broadway debut, Steven Boyer (Hand to God), Alli Mauzey (Cry Baby, Wicked), Bonnie Milligan (Head Over Heels), and Fernell Hogan (The Prom), plus Olivia Elease Hardy, Michael Iskander, and Nina White.
Stone's creative team also includes music director Chris Fenwick, orchestrator John Clancy (with additional orchestrations by Macy Schmidt), scenic designer David Zinn, costume designer Sarah Laux, lighting designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, sound designer Kai Harada, projection designer Lucy MacKinnon, and wig, hair, and make-up designer J. Jared Janas. The production is cast by The Telsey Office's Craig Burns.