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View the AWE teachers in action!

Walton Arts Center’s 2013 Arts with Education Institute concluded last week, and we are so excited for the impact arts-integration teaching will have on Northwest Arkansas schools this fall!  The teachers were a part of professional development workshops, lectures and discussions with artists.  To learn more about how and what the AWE teachers were preparing for the classroom, we have a video to summarize the week’s events!       

To learn more about Arts with Education Institute visit our website!


2013 Arts with Education Institute

Walton Arts Center was excited to host the 2013 Arts with Education Institute (AWE) last week! The annual week-long professional development is designed to train Northwest Arkansas teachers to integrate the arts into everyday lesson plans, connecting to core curriculum.  

WAC hopes to positively impact the classroom learning experience for both teachers and the almost 1,200 students that are influenced by the AWE teachers each year. “Arts integrating will help my students build their cooperation muscles,” said an AWE teacher about the foreseen benefits of the program. 

Arkansas History, Social Studies and Visual Arts were the focus areas for AWE 2013. Teachers learned how to integrate the arts in these subject areas with hands-on, interactive workshops presented by John F. Kennedy Center professionals. “My students will be better in communicating,” said an AWE teacher about the program.              

The experts from the Kennedy Center believe in and teach the three main ways arts can be interjected into students’ learning experiences. Arts as curriculum involves music, art, drama or dance teachers, and students learn particular art forms. Arts-enhanced curriculum uses the arts as a “hook” to engage students when learning in other curriculum areas. Finally, an arts-integrated curriculum, which is the goal of programs like AWE, uses the arts as the approach to teaching and learning. Students gain knowledge of both the utilized art form and another subject.  (The Kennedy Center Arts Edge)

 Chart courtesy of The Kennedy Center Arts Edge

This year’s AWE featured lectures and workshops led by Sean Layne from The Kennedy Center. Layne has a B.F.A. in Acting, and has been a part of numerous arts education programs such as founding Focus 5 Inc., arts coaching for the Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program, directing and set designing for the InterAct Story Theatre and internationally representing the Wolf Trap Institute Early Learning Through the Arts program. Some of the workshops led by Layne at AWE this year were Intro to Arts Integration, Acting Right, One Minute Challenges, Strategies for Memorization Text Cards and Connections to Common Core. Trike Theatre teaching artists assisted directly in the teaching of AWE, and will help teachers throughout the year by periodically stepping into the classrooms.   

AWE teachers are given a presentation on arts-integration learning

Along with working at the Walton Arts Center, the AWE teachers travelled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for additional hands-on instruction. Lectures and workshops at CBMAA included an Introduction to Teaching from Art lecture and a Teaching Content with Artwork workshop given by teaching artists.    

While at Crystal Bridges, School Programs Manager Anne Kraybill began a lesson plan revolving around visual essays with an introduction to Visual Essay Instruction. This was followed by Creating Visual Essays given by a team of leaders. After the teachers were introduced to the concept and structure of visual essays, they were taught how to implement the learning technique in the classroom with the facilitated reflection Bringing Visual Essay Back to the Classroom. “My students will be highly engaged and own their learning,” said one AWE teacher about the lesson plans.  

The AWE Institute 2013 creating tableaus

We are excited to see these teachers take what they learned about arts-integration back to their classrooms this fall! To learn more about Arts with Education Institute visit our website! Funding for AWE is provided in part by Crayola® with additional funding from Arkansas Arts Council and Walton Arts Center supporters and benefactors.  


Jersey Boys - behind the scenes with the creative team!

As we mentioned last week, here at Walton Arts Center we are excited for the start of this year’s Procter & Gamble Broadway Series with the opening of Jersey Boys, Sept. 3 – 8!  We have already looked at the amazing cast of this production, and now we are onto the creative team that is equally impressive!

The creative team includes Des McAnuff (director), Bob Gaudio (composer) and Sergio Trujillo (choreographer).    

McAnuff is a two-time Tony Award® winning director with a broad résumé. Immediate past Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival and Artistic Director Emeritus of La Jolla Playhouse are a few of his titles in the directing world. While working with La Jolla Playhouse, McAnuff directed over 35 productions, including Broadway’s The Who’s Tommy (Tony and Olivier Award: Best Director), Big River (Tony Award: Best Director, Best Musical), Caesar and Cleopatra and 700 Sundays (Tony Award: Best Special Theatrical Event). Under his direction, Jersey Boys went on to win the Best Musical title from the Tony Awards® and Olivier Awards.   

'The Sit Down' scene from Jersey Boys. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Along with being a founding member of the Four Seasons where he was the primary songwriter, Gaudio has worked as a producer and composer. Gaudio produced albums for Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Neil Diamond. His work with Diamond led to the hit collaboration with Barbara Streisand “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” which earned a Grammy® nomination for Record of the Year. Gaudio also produced the soundtrack for Little Shop of Horrors and the Four Seasons’ album Who Loves You. He has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990, the Four Seasons) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1995). His production and songwriting abilities created the hit “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” that stayed on Billboard’s singles list for 54 weeks, and would later add to the renowned soundtrack of Jersey Boys.  

Jersey Boys perform 'Cry for Me.' Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Trujillo's choreography has been featured in shows all the way from Broadway to television! His Broadway work includes Memphis (Tony Award: Best Musical), Leap of Faith and The Addams Family. Trujillo has more than once served more than role while working on shows. He choreographed and judged on “So You Think You Can Dance: Canada” and “Broadway: The American Musical” (PBS), and simultaneously choreographed and directed a production of Flashdance. His work extends to Off-Broadway shows such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Saved and Romeo & Juliet (Public), as well as a number of regional and international productions.

The finale song and dance. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Jersey Boys is sure to be an audience favorite with a star-studded creative team and cast! For tickets, call the Walton Arts Center box office at 479.443.5600 or visit our website. For more information on Jersey Boys, visit


A closer look at the cast of Jersey Boys!

We LOVE Broadway here at Walton Arts Center, so it’s no surprise that we are eagerly anticipating the kick off to this year’s Procter & Gamble Broadway Series with eight performances of Jersey BoysSeptember 3 – 8!  

Jersey Boys has everything a good all-American story needs: climb to fame, success and Rock and Roll! This musical chronicles the story of how four blue-collared kids became Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, the Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. The show is complete with classic hits from the Four Seasons, such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “December 1963 (Oh What a Night).”  

We wanted to learn more about the crew of the smash hit that gained over 42 major accolades, including the 2006 Tony Award® for Best Musical, the 2006 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album and the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical! We are going to focus on the impressive cast today, and then later this week we will take a look at the awe-inspiring creative team that has developed this sensational production! 

The Four Seasons are played by Nick Cosgrove (Frankie Valli), Jason Kappus (Bob Gaudio), Nicolas Dromard (Tommy DeVito) and Brandon Andurs (Nick Massi). These four actors have gained experience with shows ranging from Broadway to regional productions.    

Nick Cosgrove

Off-Broadway: Where’s Charley? (Encores!)

Regional productions: Joseph…Technicolor Dreamcoat (Joseph), Sound of Music (Rolf) and Snapshots (Danny).  

Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Jason Kappus

Broadway: American Idiot

National tours: Legally Blonde

Regional shows: Catch Me if You Can, West Side Story, Hairspray and High School Musical 

Jason Kappus as Bob Gaudio. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Nicolas Dromard

Broadway: Mary Poppins (Bert) 

Three national tours

Four regional shows  

(From left): Brandon Andrus, Nick Cosgrove, Jason Kappus and Nicolas Dromard as the Four Seasons. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Brandon Andrus

National tours: Oklahoma! (Curly)

Other shows: Xanadu (Sonny), All Shook Up (Chad), Damn Yankees (Rocky), Annie Get Your Gun (Frank), Camelot (Sir Lionel), Illyria (Duke Orsino), Romeo & Juliet: The Musical (Capulet), Snow White an Enchanting Musical (The Prince) and Guiding Light (Tucker)

(From left): Jason Kappus, Nicolas Dromard, Nick Cosgrove and Brandon Andrus perform "Sherry." Photo: Jeremy Daniel

You will not want to miss seeing this amazing cast in action! Be sure to check back later this week to read more about the creative team of Jersey Boys! For tickets, call the Walton Arts Center box office at 479.443.5600 or visit our website. For more information on Jersey Boys, visit  


Student Engagement with Colgate Classroom Series

Walton Arts Center believes it is vital to expose children to the arts.  Our Colgate Classroom Series (CCS) provides us with a way to give the children of Northwest Arkansas access to live matinee performances of theater, dance, puppetry and world music.  This year, our focused efforts allowed growth in the reach of the program and cultivated new relationships with a Rural School Initiative.   

Since 2009, our reach has doubled - with 100 schools attending CCS performances this past year.  The number of registered seats grew as well, reaching 34,000 seats, compared to 2011’s 30,000.  Our goal next year is to register more than 40,000 students for the Colgate Classroom Series. 

Students arriving at Walton Arts Center

This growth is due in part to efforts to make participation as affordable as possible for the schools.  Two types of partnerships, Smart Partners and 100% Smart Partner Schools, allow us to work with the schools through every aspect of CCS.  Both partnerships receive assistance in ticket prices, online performance guides which support classroom instruction by helping educators connect art forms with core curriculum standards, and transportation subsidies from J.B. Hunt Transportation Inc.

Another way we expanded our reach this year was by focusing on rural schools in NWA. Of the 15 schools targeted, one third attended CCS performances, including Gentry, Pea Ridge, Farmington, West Fork and Decatur. Rural schools in the area account for 5500 students, and we are happy to have made great contacts in order to reach these students in years to come.  The goal next year is to have participation from at least half of these schools.   

Hakim Bekkam from Caravanserai interacts with students

The Colgate Classroom Series gives every NWA school and their students access to world-class arts. Through research with the University of Arkansas we’re learning more about how attending live performances at Walton Arts Center benefits students.  In a recent research project, Junior High School students from Bentonville and Springdale who attended performances at Walton Arts Center as part of elementary school, were surveyed. The results were impressive. Students who attended more performances demonstrated more positive student values, including greater tolerance and empathy and were more likely to read for pleasure compared to students who attended less or not at all. This research begins to quantify some of the many important benefits the arts have for students.   

Students watching the CCS performance of STOMP

CCS performances are chosen for their ability to enrich class curriculum. To make the process easier for participating schools, we provide a list of the shows offered, a brief synopsis of each and the suggested grade levels that are appropriate for the shows. This past year a few of the select shows were Boats, Grug and Dinosaur Petting Zoo.  We are excited to further expand the CCS reach this next year with theater performances like Digging Up Arkansas, dance productions like Company Käfig and world music demonstrations like AnDa Union!  

For a complete listing of the upcoming Colgate Classroom Series, and to learn more about the program, visit our website