01 March 2011


Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying several First Wave students to New York City for the 2011 New York Knicks Poetry Slam. On Wednesday, we caught what was suddenly the most highly-anticipated Knicks game of the season (featuring the debut of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in their new Knicks duds) and were thrilled to take in the amazing Madison Square Garden crowd energy in the exciting win. On Thursday, after technical rehearsal for the evening's show, staff took the First Wave performers to the heart of Times Square. It was ostensibly for a lesson about TKTS/TDF and a quick photo at the TKTS stairs, but was actually a challenge: perform the piece they were about to perform on a Broadway stage in the middle of Times Square. The performers not only accepted the challenge of a flash performance like professionals but gave one of their best renditions ever of their piece, "Jury Duty."

That evening at the Knicks Poetry Slam Finals at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre, between performances by some incredible young poets from the New York City area, the First Wave performers lit up the stage with "Jury Duty." While I held my breath, they brought down one of the largest houses on Broadway. Between this exceptional culmination of months of their hard work and the way they conducted themselves as First Wave ambassadors throughout the week, the only way I can describe what I felt is complete and utter pride. We also welcomed the our next student from New York City, the first member of our fifth (!) cohort, and met many potential future First Wavers amidst the talented youth poets. All in all, a very successful trip.

Hair (The New Broadway Cast Recording)On another note, on the day after we returned from New York, most of the First Wave cohort headed to Milwaukee to check out the national tour of HAIR at Milwaukee's Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. It was a great experience from start to finish - the Marcus Center has a fantastic group sales department that took great care of us and even organized a post-show talkback for our students.As for the show itself, I have to give the incredible cast and creative team credit - usually after seeing a show on Broadway, I see some holes in the tour production, but HAIR was flawless. I felt like I was back in the Hirschfeld. HAIR is one of my favorite Broadway shows of all time, and I can't recommend seeing it (especially this tour!) enough.