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BILLY Producers & Elton John Announce Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest
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February 8, 2010 - by NYC News Desk

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Fidelity FutureStage®, the producers of Billy Elliot the Musical and Fidelity FutureStage Honorary Chairman Elton John today announced the second annual Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest - a unique opportunity for area high school students to become Broadway's youngest playwrights.

Students are invited to write a 10-minute, one-act play reflecting one of the themes from the story of Billy Elliot: pursuing a dream, discovering a special talent or overcoming an obstacle. One grand prize winner will have the opportunity to attend the opening night of Billy Elliot the Musical in Chicago, walk the red carpet, attend the after-party and have their play produced on Broadway. That play will be performed live at the Fidelity FutureStage finale gala event on June 14, 2010 at the Imperial Theatre.

The Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest is a joint initiative of Fidelity Investments® and Billy Elliot the Musical to encourage young people to use their creativity, participate in the theater arts and perhaps become Broadway's next rising star.

"I am a great believer that every child should have access to the arts," said Elton John, Fidelity FutureStage Honorary Chairperson. "The arts can take you to a place you can only imagine. What Fidelity FutureStage is doing is encouraging young people to use their imagination and unlock gifts they never knew they had inside them."

The contest is an extension of the Fidelity FutureStage theater education program, now in its fourth year providing playwriting and production curricula and theater experiences for 10 inner-city schools.

"Fidelity FutureStage is our way to invest in the next generation," said Jennifer K. Brown, Executive Vice President at Fidelity Investments. "To date, nearly 5,000 New York City students have participated in Fidelity FutureStage, now, the Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest will give even more students the opportunity to tell their stories and possibly fulfill a Broadway dream."

The contest is open to full-time students aged 13-19 in grades 7 through 12 located in the following New York, New Jersey and Connecticut counties: (New York) Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester; (New Jersey) Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic and Union; (Connecticut) Fairfield and New Haven.

All plays must be submitted by 11:50pm ET on March 15, 2010. Complete contest rules and directions for submission can be found at www.FutureStage.com/playwriting.

Designed to help area teachers engage their classes, and individual students to get started, www.FutureStage.com provides numerous playwriting resources including tips on crafting a story and developing characters, theater terminology, formatting guidelines, and video messages from Elton John and other members of the Billy Elliot creative team. Teachers can download a full curriculum guide from the site, offering class-by-class lesson plans and suggested assignments.

To reach out to teachers throughout the metro area and help them better understand the program, Fidelity FutureStage has worked closely with Thru The Stage Door, a new arts education company that strives to create learning tools that educate, ignite curiosity about the artistic process, and inspire a life-long love for the arts. Thru The Stage Door is the educational partner for the Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest.

Following the March 15, 2010 deadline, all eligible plays will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel of Broadway professionals who will narrow the field to five finalists. Finalists will be notified on March 22, 2010. Plays will be evaluated in the following categories: originality/creativity of the play; character development; structure of dialogue and plot; and appropriateness of the play to the Billy Elliot themes. The Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest grand prize winner will be chosen from among the five finalists by a panel of judges. The winner will be announced on March 29, 2010.

Fidelity FutureStage, now in its fourth year, is designed to bring theater to life for 600+ NYC students annually, representing 10 inner-city schools. The year-long theater education curriculum affords students the opportunity to learn from leading playwrights, directors, designers and actors, and ultimately experience the thrill of bringing their own creativity to life on a professional stage.

More than 1,000 hours of classroom work over the course of the school year includes instruction in theater arts disciplines ranging from playwriting and editing to casting, auditioning, set and costume design, directing and final stage production. To date, some of the Broadway artists lending their time and support to the Fidelity FutureStage program have included: Kathleen Marshall (GREASE!), William Ivey Long (Grey Gardens, Hairspray), Charles Strauss (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie), Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid), Jerry Zaks (Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Little Shop of Horrors), Raul Esparza (Company, Speed the Plow), Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), Charles Dutton (The Piano Lesson) and Chazz Palmintari (A Bronx Tale).

The Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest, now in its second year, was created in 2009 to give additional students throughout the NYC metro area encouragement and opportunity to participate in the theater arts.

The Fidelity FutureStage Finale gala event on June 14th will showcase a total of five student written 10-minute plays from the program. The plays will be selected from the program's 10 FutureStage schools, and this year's Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest. All of the plays featured in the June 14th finale will be published by Samuel French, the premier play and musical publishing and licensing company serving the Broadway community.

For more information, visit www.FutureStage.com.

Fidelity Investments is one of the world's largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of over $3.2 trillion, including managed assets of $1.5 trillion as of December 31, 2009. Fidelity offers investment management, retirement planning, brokerage, and human resources and benefits outsourcing services to over 20 million individuals and institutions as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. The firm is the largest mutual fund company in the United States, the No. 1 provider of workplace retirement savings plans, the largest mutual fund supermarket, a leading online brokerage firm and one of the largest providers of custody and clearing services to financial professionals. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.

2009 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Billy Elliot the Musical opened to rave reviews at Broadway's Imperial Theater in November 2008. Based on the critically acclaimed film of 2000, Billy Elliot is the joyous celebration of one boy's journey to make his dreams come true. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a passion that takes him by surprise, and takes his whole family on an incredibly uplifting adventure. Billy Elliot, winner of ten 2009 Tony Awards, is brought to life by the film's original creative team including director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling, and writer Lee Hall - joined by music legend Elton John who wrote the score. The show has played to over four million people worldwide since its London premiere in 2005. Billy Elliot the Musical is presented by Universal Pictures Stage productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Weinstein Live Entertainment, based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film. In support of the Fidelity FutureStage Playwriting Contest, Billy Elliot the Musical is offering a special ticket rate for students, starting at $40. Group rates for classes are also available. For more information, visit www.billyelliotbroadway.com

Thru the Stage door, a new arts education company, exists to create extraordinary theatre experiences and arts learning tools that educate, ignite curiosity about the artistic process, build new theatre-going audiences and inspire a life-long love for the arts. Co-founded by Broadway veterans Dori Berinstein and Philip Katz, Thru The Stage Door is proud to produce immersive, interactive, cutting edge Online Study Guides for educators, students and families. The Online Guide has been named "The Official Study Guide of Broadway." Thru The Stage Door's Interactive Study Guides have already been completed for White Christmas, West Side Story, Legally Blonde The Musical, Million Dollar Quartet and Shrek The Musical. Additionally, Thru The Stage Door is the creator of Broadway 101 designated by The Broadway League as the official guide to Broadway. For more information, visit www.thruthestagedoor.com

Source: BroadwayWorld.com'


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