Warwick’s former mayor, Joe Walsh, saw his first Broadway play when he was 35 years old.
“I grew up on Prairie Ave. in Providence, and we didn’t have an opportunity to go to the theatre,” the board chairman of the Providence Performing Arts Center said.
On Tuesday, Walsh stood behind the podium in the PPAC lobby to announce “Experience PPAC,” a new statewide education initiative that will provide every 10th grader in Rhode Island an opportunity to see a select touring Broadway performance at PPAC.
“The community has been very good to us,” Walsh said. “This beautiful building was scheduled to be torn down and turned into a parking lot, but thanks to the community two capital campaigns raised enough money to save the theatre. Now it is time to give back to the community.”
PPAC has lined up special Thursday matinee performances of “Come From Away” (November 5), “Fiddler on the Roof” (Feb. 13) and another show to be announced. Students will be given study guides on the musicals and will hold class discussions after the performance.
“The experience will not cost the schools a dime,” Walsh said. “We have enough money to even pay for the school buses.”
Walsh introduced Dana Brazil, PPAC’s new Director of Education, who explained the program and introduced West Warwick High School teacher, Lisa Narsisi-Stewart, whose class participated in a “dry run” last week, heaping praise on PPAC President J.L. “Lynn” Singleton and his staff for “a wonderful experience in the arts” for her and her students. Following the performance, the students were treated to a talk-back with members of the cast.
Students from West Warwick and Central High Schools told of their first experience at the theatre, most saying that they had never had the opportunity to see live theatre and hoped to return.