Laura Benanti And #SunshineSongs Bring High School Musicals To Small Screens High school musicals are canceled around the country over coronavirus concerns. Broadway star Laura Benanti asked disappointed high school singers for the next best thing: performance videos.
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A Broadway Star And #SunshineSongs Bring High School Musical Theater To Small Screens

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A Broadway Star And #SunshineSongs Bring High School Musical Theater To Small Screens

A Broadway Star And #SunshineSongs Bring High School Musical Theater To Small Screens

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For high school theater kids, there's nothing like knowing you're so close to opening weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BLIND BROOK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: (As characters, singing) One day more...

SHAPIRO: That's the cast of Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, N.Y., rehearsing "Les Mis" before they were shut down.

(APPLAUSE)

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

So where do high school students turn in this time of cancellations when they've been rehearsing for a musical? Well, where they turn for everything else - hundreds of performers have added their recorded rehearsals and even performances from home right to Twitter, including Sasha Phillips (ph) of Oceanside, N.Y.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SASHA PHILLIPS: (Singing) Reprimand their daughters - bright young women sick of swimming, ready to stand and ready to know what the people know...

SHAPIRO: The Tony Award winner Laura Benanti encouraged disappointed high school thespians to let loose online.

LAURA BENANTI: I just decided I would go on social media and encourage these young performers to send me videos of them performing from their sequestered homes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CAMERON LEIBFRIED: (Singing) The judges will decide, the likes of me abide. Spectators of the show always staying low...

SHAPIRO: That's Cameron Leibfried (ph) of Orland Park, Ill., belting out her part from her high school musical from home.

BENANTI: Although these kids are incredibly disappointed that they're not able to perform for a live audience, they're now getting a huge audience via social media. Social media doesn't always contribute to society in a wonderful way, and I think this is an example of how it actually can.

KELLY: Meanwhile, in Utah, college freshman Ben Dunford (ph) says he had just started rehearsals for a production of "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." He gave it his all on Twitter under that hashtag that Benanti initiated #SunshineSongs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BEN DUNFORD: (Singing) Not only is he tactless but he's also rather dim, for there's 11 of us and there's only one of him.

KELLY: Laura Benanti couldn't be more thrilled with the energy and enthusiasm of #SunshineSongs.

BENANTI: The overall feeling that I get from it is how committed these kids are, how open-hearted they are, how sincere they are. You know, we're a society that values sarcasm (laughter). And like, cool people don't really care. And I love seeing how much these kids care.

SHAPIRO: Like these kids running through the musical "The Wedding Singer" in a parking lot of Buffalo Grove High School in Illinois. The kids are all right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED BUFFALO GROVE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: (Singing) If I told you - if I told you, what I'm feeling now inside, you'd be certain there's not a single thing that we should hide...

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