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The Broadway Bridges program helps thousands of New York City students see their first Broadway show

NEW YORK — Each year, thousands of New York City high school students see a Broadway show, an experience that can change lives.

CBS2’s Dick Brennan reports that Broadway Bridges is the city’s largest theater education program.

“I am happy. I’m excited. I just want to see what it’s like,” said 10th grader Cam Johnson.

“I’ve never done anything like it except in the movies,” said Kasey Rosario, a 10th grader at East Bronx Academy for the Future.

Broadway Bridges recently gave high school sophomores the opportunity to see The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest-running musical, for just $10 a ticket.

“We know that when children make art, they do better in life, move on, advance their school. They’re just happier, more successful people. So this is a win for us, a win for the students, and a win for New York City,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.

St. Martin wants every New York high school student to see a Broadway show before they graduate.

“It introduces a key aspect of the city of New York. It introduces these students to careers on Broadway because they’re making life choices,” St. Martin said. “And it hopefully builds an audience for us too.”

Around 60,000 students have seen shows like Beetlejuice, Aladdin and Hadestown since the program started six years ago.

“Broadway is a really exciting place. You can see professional plays,” said 10th grader Marian Rodriguez.

“I think it’s a great way for people to find a new love for theater,” said Paulyne Bacani, a 10th-grader who has been on Broadway before. “I’m looking forward to [my friends] because it’s her first time.”

“You are fascinated. Many of our students have never been to Manhattan, let alone a theater. It’s really great. The teachers tell us it’s an incredible bonding experience for them,” St. Martin said.

“People don’t realize that the arts are very conducive to learning. When you mix a passion for art, you create a passion for academics. It’s an outlet for many of our students,” said Rosemary Vega, principal at East Williamsburg Scholars Academy.

For many students, the trip to Phantom was their first time ever seeing a Broadway show.

“I don’t really know what to expect, I don’t know. I’m still excited,” said tenth-grader Victoria Banszynski.

Kasey Rosario, a 10th grader at East Bronx Academy for the Future, aspires to a career in the arts, and said going to the theater is an invaluable lesson.

“I think it might help me feel more confident because there are actually actors who go through the process of revealing their art style and being themselves. So it might help me be more confident in my writing,” Rosario said.

A total of 19 Broadway shows including Into the Woods, MJ: The Musical, Wicked, Death of a Salesman and Topdog/Underdog make this year’s list, ushering in new lifelong theater fans.

Click here for more information on Broadway Bridges.

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