A grant from Disney could help the Overture Center spark an interest in theater in some of the area’s youngest students.

Disney recently awarded the center a $100,000 grant to launch the Disney Musicals in Schools program in local elementary schools starting next year. The after-school initiative aims to help create theater programs in under-resourced schools.

The Overture Center will begin taking applications from interested schools this fall, said Ray Gargano, director of programming and community engagement. Madison public Title 1 elementary schools or Madison public elementary schools with 50 percent or more students that qualify for free or reduced lunches may apply, he said.

Selected schools will take part in a 17-week musical theater residency led by a team of teaching artists trained by both the Overture Center and Disney Theatrical Group. Each school will receive performance rights, education support materials and guidance from the teaching artists as they work on their production.

Students in the program will take part in 30-minute musicals adapted from Disney films such as “101 Dalmatians,” “Aladdin,” “The Aristocats” and “The Jungle Book.”

The grant will fund two years of programming, and the Overture Center will choose up to five schools to participate in 2017 and another five schools in 2018, Gargano said.

The program will teach participants about all areas of theater, as well as careers in the arts, he said. Students will also get to try their hand at marketing and graphic design for the productions as well.

The program will allow area students to start taking part in theater programs at a younger age, which research shows can help with academics and social skills, Gargano said.

“The ultimate goal is that we create long-lasting musical theater programs in elementary schools,” he said.

The 17-week program will culminate when each participating school performs a number from their musical on the Capitol Theater stage after performing their musical at their respective school.

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