"Dream big" was the message from Broadway on December 10, when the Broadway Dreams Foundation's 2nd Annual Champagne & Caroling Gala hit New York's Celsius Lounge in Bryant Park. The event benefited the non-profit foundation, which provides scholarships to talented arts students who otherwise would not be able to afford intensive performance training.
"Talent without opportunity is talent unrecognized," explained executive director Annette Tanner.
This past year, Broadway Dreams--a longtime favorite of TMU bloggers--was able to provide a record 42 percent of its students with full or partial scholarships.
The gala included performances from 18 of Broadway Dreams' 480 students, who sung holiday favorites alongside Broadway's Ryann Redmond (Bring it On), Morgan James (Godspell), and faculty member Billy Porter (Broadway's upcoming Kinky Boots).
Before singing a jazzy rendition of "All I Want for Christmas is You," James spoke to TheaterMania about her appreciation of Broadway Dreams. "I love to teach, and I love working with students," James said. "All you have to do is witness the students and [their] incredible growth during one of the weeks of Broadway Dreams."
Billy Porter seconded James. "I had so many angels in my life when I was younger who taught me how to be an artist and believed in me. I feel like it's my duty to give back," he said.
And it's a good thing Porter and his fellow faculty members do just that. Without Broadway Dreams, new stage favorites like Blake Daniel and Redmond might never have had their dreams recognized by landing roles in Broadway's Spring Awakening and Bring It On: the Musical. Redmond, who has been involved with Broadway Dreams for seven years, is a living testament that no dream is too big.
"Keep dreaming," she said. "There are so many people in this world who are willing to help out. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible!"