If you had asked me what my dream was when I was younger, my answer would have been to perform—a total no-brainer. I was hooked on performing for others and bringing smiles to their faces with something I could do. I found a way to channel that into the helping profession of speech pathology. For my students, the answer is very similar. Almost all of them want to perform in some capacity, they’re just not sure how to get there. While some are interested in doing school productions or youth theatre organizations local to us, others want more than that. Enter Broadway Dreams, a not-for-profit organization that specializes in holding masterclasses in singing, dancing, and acting. I got to talk to their Creative Education Director, Matthew Scott, to learn more about his love for performing and arts education, this organization, and how it all works. Scott has worked on Broadway and touring productions of An American In Paris, Jersey Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim, and First You Dream.
Stef: What got you interested in performing?
Matthew Scott: I grew up just outside of NYC and started seeing shows and concerts when I was a kid. My mom always played music in the house and I started taking voice lessons around the time I was 11.
S: What is Broadway Dreams?
M: We are a not-for-profit Arts Organization that provides training and mentorship. We are currently active in ten cities in the US and six partner countries. We specialize in weeklong intensives and performance opportunities. We bring Broadway professionals (directors, choreographers, musical directors, actors) to your city, teach master classes and at the end of the week, we write and perform a show.
S: How did it get started?
M: Fourteen years ago, Annette Tanner, the executive director and founder of Broadway Dreams started the organization with one weeklong program in Atlanta, GA. It grew from there.
S: What are the different programs within the organization?
M: Aside from our weeklong intensive programming which takes place predominantly in the summertime, we offer additional programming throughout the year in the form of Triple Threat Extremes, College Prep Classes, and Broadway Boosts. More info can be found on our website www.broadwaydreams.org
S: Are there age restrictions at Broadway Dreams?
M: The wonderful thing about Broadway Dreams is we do not have an age cap. You are never too old to dream!
S: How do students get involved?
M: They often find information online or by following our talented faculty on social media. But word of mouth is a big part of it too, and we have students who have been with us for over a decade now.
S: What sort of students get involved with the programs? Is it for students who are thinking of musical theatre as a profession, or can classes be taken for fun?
M: It is for anyone who has a dream. Many of our students go on to be professional performers, but many others pursue parallel careers in the arts, or become teachers, or stage managers. No matter what, they leave our program with a better sense of self. I will say this, our students are FIERCE, talented, and yes competitive. This is a serious program and a great opportunity for those who are serious about a career in the arts.
S: How does a school or organization connect with Broadway Dreams?
M: They can reach out on our website.
S: Why do you think the arts are an important component of education?
M: It’s all about teaching empathy, acceptance, tolerance, and music and theater do that. It is healing and all children should be able to express themselves through art.
S: Some of my students feel it’s easier to play a character than it is to be themself. Do you find this to be true for you?
M: There is much truth in that statement. And yet, what your students may not realize…just yet, is that they will always bring a part of themselves to any character they play. Even the characters who are not redeemable, and do not deserve the sympathy of the audience deserve the sympathy of the actors who play them. Therefore, you must always seek to find redemption in any character you play. And often times, that means looking inward and bringing your own personal experiences to the role.
S: How do you select the teachers for your classes?
M: Often times I just reach out to my exceptionally talented friends, people I’ve worked with or long admired. The criteria for our faculty are that they be a great teacher and successful in their field. Also, they have to be a good person.
S: During your career, is there advice you’ve received that has changed how you perform? Is there any advice you’d share with kids/teens who are currently performing in school?
M: Keep going. Keep singing, and dancing. See as much as you can. Read. Go to the theatre. Listen to cast albums. Be informed and start to figure out who you really are. It’s like a moving target that is constantly changing, so keep pursuing your goals and it will reveal itself to you.
S: Every week I challenge my students to do something outside of their comfort zone, what would you challenge them to do?
M: If you are not a dancer, go to dance class. Not a singer, go do Karaoke, and take voice lessons. Write. Create. Dream.
I can’t thank Matt enough for his time and insight into Broadway Dreams. I have been aware of them since I attended BroadwayCon 2017, and can’t believe it took me this long to dig deeper into their philosophies and programs. I strongly encourage all of my readers to go explore their website and see if they find anything that suits them, I know some of my students have already started exploring. You can find more information at BroadwayDreams.org, @Bway_dreams on Twitter, and @mybroadwaydreams on Instagram. You can follow Matthew Scott at @thematt_scott on Twitter and @fattymattyfresh on Instagram.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP