Southern Nevada Kids Transform Through Disney Musicals in Schools


Photo: Geri Kodey

Animal cries filled the auditorium of Goldfarb Elementary as floppy-eared monkeys and elephants poured onto the stage. As one, they started to shimmy and sing to the opening number of the Disney musical “The Jungle Book.”

For most of these elementary students, this was their first time ever participating in a live theater production. This marked the school’s first year with The Smith Center for the Performing Arts’ Disney Musicals in Schools program.

Provided at no cost to schools, this initiative helps elementary schools across Southern Nevada create their own sustainable musical theater programs.  This includes putting on their first Disney musical production.

The Smith Center has provided this program to more than 30 schools, thanks to seed money from Disney Citizenship and the generous support of the Elaine P. Wynn and Family Foundation.

Goldfarb teacher Cynthia Taylor, co-director of her school’s first show, had been determined to bring the program to her school after experiencing its impact at another school. “We saw so many students who just blossomed,” Taylor explained. “That even includes one autistic student who barely spoke until he ended up (participating in the show), and he suddenly started reading and speaking.”

A Life Changing Impact

Disney Musicals in Schools brought the same impact to Goldfarb Elementary.

After several months of training with Smith Center teaching artists, the school succeeded in putting on multiple performances of its first musical. The experience transformed the 68 Goldfarb students who participated, Taylor said. “It’s taught them teamwork, confidence and life skills like stage presence. Things they’re going to need when they get older.”

Goldfarb students also performed at The Smith Center during its annual Student Share event.  This event showcased song-and-dance numbers by the program’s six newest participating schools. Nine-year-old Francisco Montenegro, who starred as Mowgli, said he now wants to be an actor someday.

“The biggest thing I learned is to be who you are, and if you like the arts, keep doing it,” Montenegro said.

The Smith Center’s Disney Musicals in Schools program starts again in September.

The Smith Center
The Smith Center
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Or contact The Smith Center at 702-749-2538

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