TPAC, Metro Schools, Nashville Mayor, Consul-General of Japan Welcome Summer Rehearsals of Blast! The Music of Disney
Over 40 cast and crew to rehearse at East Nashville Magnet High School this summer before launching new tour of Japan
NASHVILLE – A new touring production of Blast! The Music of Disney is spending the summer in Music City, but not to perform at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). Instead, more than 40 members of the production’s cast and crew are rehearsing at East Nashville Magnet High School before the launch of a multi-week tour of Japan with stops in Tokyo, Osaka, Shiga, and Nagoya.
The summer rehearsals are the result of a unique agreement between Kyodo Tokyo, which presents Broadway touring shows in Japan, and Metro Nashville Public Schools. In exchange for hosting the five-week rehearsal, the high school will receive a contribution of $5,000 to its band program and students will be allowed to observe and interact with the performers.
TPAC, which is connected with the production company through the Independent Presenters Network and with Metro Schools through extensive collaboration via its TPAC Education programs, facilitated the agreement.
“This is a win-win situation for Kyodo Tokyo and Metro Schools as well as a prime example of how the Broadway touring industry, schools, and local communities can increase connectivity and create new ways that benefit students,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC president and chief executive officer. “We are delighted to have played a part in building this important relationship, and we hope to see more opportunities like this in the future.”
On Wednesday, June 22, O’Brien joined Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Japan Consul-General Masami Kinefuchi, and representatives from Metro Schools to extend the touring cast some Southern hospitality with a catered “Welcome Luncheon” at the high school.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Blast! The Music of Disney to Nashville to get ready for their Japanese tour,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our MNPS student musicians to meet professional performers, while also benefiting from the generous donation that will go to help fund the Music Makes Us program."
“Music Makes Us is proud of our partnership and collaboration with TPAC and their support of music education in Metro Schools. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for students, and it represents the essence of what Music City is all about, giving students an up close look at how a professional Broadway production is produced,” said Dr. Nola Jones, Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts for Metro Schools and a TPAC Board Member. “The performance showcases instrumental musicians as performers, many who are former high school band students themselves. We also were happy to see interactions between students and the performers as this broadens students’ knowledge of what professional opportunities exist beyond graduation and inspires them to musical heights they may not have known were possible.”
Blast! The Music of Disney will move directly from Nashville to Tokyo for two weeks of technical rehearsals and previews. Hosting rehearsals of the production, which features four Japanese cast members, in Nashville is another example of the special connection between the country and Nashville.
The Nashville area is home to thousands of Japanese citizens and hundreds of businesses, including Bridgestone-Americas and Nissan. One of the few Consulate General of Japan offices in the U.S. is located here, and Nashville became a sister city to Kamakura, Japan, in September 2014.
“I wish to give a very warm welcome to our friends and guests from Japan: Mr. Ronnie Lee from Kyodo Tokyo, as well as four of the show’s cast members: Naoki Ishikawa; Chiho Honjo; Takuya Wada; and Hiromu Yoneso,” said Consul-General Masami Kinefuchi. “This partnership is an opportunity to make great music and to build international friendships through the performing arts. After all, there is nothing better than great music, great food, and great hospitality to bring people together … and I can personally assure you: In Nashville, you will find all three! Japan and Nashville have a strong business and cultural exchange relationship. Many Japanese businesses operate here. I am sure this will be a great opportunity for our Japanese visitors and students at East High School to learn from each other – to discover how different they are but also how similar they are.”
Blast! which won a special Tony Award in 2001, brings the music of Disney films, Broadway shows, and Walt Disney World to the stage with Blast! The Music of Disney and features outstanding numbers from "The Lion King," "Fantasia," "Frozen," "Beauty and the Beast," and more.
“Rehearsing Blast! The Music of Disney in Music City feels like being home. Being embraced by TPAC and having Metro Nashville Public Schools help open the doors for our rehearsals is an extraordinary experience,” said Ronnie Lee, the producer of Blast! The Music of Disney. “We have received so much support from Metro Schools, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Inn at Opryland, Gray Line, and Vanderbilt University Sports Medicine – even the football team pitched in to help us load-in our gear. Our musicians and dancers are surrounded by the spirit of Music City, and we can’t think of a better place to be.”
About Metro Nashville Public Schools
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is the nation’s 42nd largest district, preparing more than 86,000 students to excel in higher education, work and life. With the goal of being the first choice for Nashville’s families, Metro Schools is committed to providing a high quality education to every student. The district is earning a national reputation for urban school reform, its commitment to social and emotional learning and rising academic achievement. Its strategic plan, Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student, sets the goal of becoming the nation’s top performing urban school system by 2018. The governing body for Metro Schools is the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, a nine-member elected body. For more information, visit www.MNPS.org.