Just like the best dramas that make it to the Broadway stage, the story of how two Broadway legends came to Sacred Heart to perform with and teach our performing arts students is an unforgettable tale full of twists and turns (and a happy ending!). Sandra Joseph, the longest-running leading lady in Broadway's longest-running show, The Phantom of the Opera, and her husband Ron Bohmer, who starred as the Phantom as well as lead roles in Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, The Book of Mormon and more, performed "Climb Every Mountain" with the cast of Sacred Heart's upcoming show The Sound of Music at the Brown Theatre. The next day, Joseph and Bohmer gave a Masterclass at Sacred Heart School for the Arts with the cast of The Sound of Music. After workshopping with Joseph and a Q&A regarding her book Unmasking What Matters: 10 Life Lessons from 10 Years on Broadway, the leads of The Sound of Music sang pieces from their solos, and Bohmer gave individualized advice and guidance. What an incredible opportunity for our performing arts students!
So how did the Jean Frazier Leadership Institute's Lauren Hitron and SHA Performing Arts Chair Jill Schurman bring Broadway to SHA? Hitron says it was a "collaboration born out of the pandemic." In 2020 when half of the students were at home attending class virtually, and the other half were in the classroom but on-stage opportunities were limited, Schurman invited Hitron into her classroom to do a book study of Unmasking What Matters. The IB music students learned about self-awareness and overcoming fear in a growth mindset, important lessons for any teen, but especially helpful for performers.
In 2021, music students were back in the classroom and again studying Joseph's book, around which Hitron and Schurman had begun to build a curriculum. In an effort to teach students how to be leaders of their own lives, Schurman and Hitron designed a curriculum around the themes of unmasking what matters most in your life.
Then, @SHS_JFLI tweeted. The tweet showed how students in at SHA were still actively learning, despite stage limitations and mask mandates.
"IB Music has been reading "Unmasking What Matters" by @sandrajoseph this year. Here they are with their perspective boxes where they've included an achievements list, obstacles overcome list, and notes from each other valuing one another's special gifts."
Guess who responded to the tweet? @Sandrajoseph. Her comment--"Oh how this makes my heart SING!!! Bravo!!!"--resulted in a Zoom collaboration, and two years later, has culminated in this performance and Masterclass experience.
Not only did students have the opportunity of a lifetime to perform on stage with Christine and Phantom, but they have also benefitted from a very authentic leadership experience that combines social-emotional learning (SEL) and practical skills. Joseph's wise wisdom certainly impacted these students, and we can all learn from her perspective: "Leadership is about being your authentic self and having the courage to bring it out to the world, to go after dreams that may seem too big for you. It's about playing the lead in your life RIGHT NOW and how you carry yourselves through the challenges that come your way."
Schurman says, "It was the greatest educational experience I have witnessed in my 29 years of teaching. The JFLI strives to focus on developing student leaders...but this week I learned how I can lead with my heart, my authentic self, and I am forever grateful to...my amazing school...When the bell rings it's showtime and every day is a new scene waiting to play out with an incredible cast!"
And so the tale of how Broadway came to SHA--and how our students learned lessons in leadership that they will never forget--ended on a high note. Now who's ready to see these incredible performers in The Sound of Music? You'll have to wait until November 4-5, November 11-13, 2022!