Summer Reading Challenge

August 17, 2021

During the heatwave of August, when pools became an oasis and beaches were a coveted retreat, a line of curious theatergoers, all under the age of 10, ditched their towels to sit on the front steps of the Utica Public Library for an anticipated look inside the world of Broadway.

No stranger to youth collaborations, Broadway Utica proudly joined forces with New York State Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon’s Summer Reading Challenge to bring the love of playwriting and theater to the youth of Mohawk Valley. Armed with an array of playbills from former shows, Broadway Utica’s Executive Director Danielle Padula invited hopeful theatergoers to touch, turn, and explore the colorful pages, while she broke down exactly what it all meant. From lists of cast and crew members, to stage design, business ads, and stories alike, youth were able to gain an understanding of the symbolic piece in their hands–a piece that Padula explained was as intricate as the lights and actors on the stage.

Buttenschon, who arrived with bags of non-perishable goods for Broadway Utica’s STOMP Out Hunger campaign, sat beside wide-eyed children as they listened to the tales of Broadway Utica, discussed groundbreaking shows, and thought up new ways to bring the excitement of Broadway to youth around the area.

Never one to slow down, Padula embraced the youth in front of her and quickly broke them into groups, staging a mock-play in front of the Utica Public Library. Giggles, boisterous voices, and acting directions filled the summer air as cool breezes carried the energy and excitement of youth, all who were playing a character for the first time, into the steady audience of those passing by. The remarkable performance, on behalf of the youth and Padula, was met with enthusiastic applause from Assemblywoman Buttenschon and the crowd.

“I want to thank the Broadway Theater League of Utica for partnering with my office to promote Summer Reading for all students in our area,” Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon concluded. “Today, Broadway Utica has opened a world of playwriting to our community as well as our youth. This innovative approach to the theater was a reminder of how important the arts are to us.”

Broadway Theatre League of Utica has long engaged students outside of the classroom, exposing them to the dynamics of the theater and Broadway shows, through their youth program, Students on Broadway!. Designed to unleash the creative potential in children of all ages, Broadway Utica ensures that much of their community engagement goes back to area youth, teaching and inspiring them in order to create a passion and familiarity for Broadway, and live theater.  After all, as we saw on this hot August day, our youth will be the ultimate reason that the show goes on!



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