A group of students from Leadership and Public Service High School in downtown Manhattan took an excursion to 44th Street in November. They were off to the Shubert Theatre to attend a matinee of Some Like It Hot. “The students—they know of Times Square, they know that there are shows taking place,” Principal Philip Santos, who accompanied the students, tells Perry Sook on The Broadway Show. “But to take them for the first time, to walk through the security and to sit down, to get the Playbill, it’s a completely different world.”
Leadership and Public Service High School is one of the 436 New York City public high schools that participates in Broadway Bridges, a theater education program that enables the city’s public high school students to attend a Broadway show before graduation. Since its inception in 2017, Broadway Bridges, a partnership between The Broadway League, NYC Public Schools and the United Federation of Teachers, has brought some 100,000 students to Broadway.
“Most of the time, students don’t have the opportunity to experience what people travel all over the world to experience.”
–Principal Philip Santos
Santos loves sharing his passion for theater with his students; he knows how much a teacher’s enthusiasm can impact an impressionable young mind. “Students gravitate to that passion,” he says. “And then they take it from there.” While still in college, Santos worked as a security officer for the Public Theater. He happened to be there for the 1995 run of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, the hip hop-infused musical revue about Black history. It changed everything.
“Just to see the ins and outs, all the work that went behind it… That was it,” he says. “I was done.” Musical theater, he continues, inspires students to understand “what people can accomplish when they come together. From music to the writing to the acting to the directing—all those things come together to make something beautiful.”
Santos is excited to cultivate the next generation of passionate theater lovers with the help of Broadway Bridges. “Most of the time, students don’t have the opportunity to experience what people travel all over the world to experience. So, for my students to come and experience it—it changes lives.”
He adds, “It’s their city. They deserve to experience all those things.”