American Voices is a nonprofit organization that has been conducting cross-cultural engagement with audiences in over 110 nations worldwide since 1993. Founded with a focus on the recently independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe, American Voices has expanded its mission towards supporting youth in nations emerging from conflict or ...
Broadway is too good to keep to ourselves. This unique American genres has international appeal, and American Voices’ project Broadway Bridges harnesses that excitement to boost mutual understanding between the two nations as well as support the upcoming generation of musical theater talent. This November, St. Louis-based arts diplomacy, youth engagement and exchange organization, American Voices, is bringing Broadway to Pakistan, where 7 aspiring Pakistani performers will hone their “triple threat” by perfecting pieces from Hamilton, Rent, and other recent hits with a team of two Broadway performers from New York City, Rhyn McLemore Saver and Peter Thoresen.
“The level of interest in Musical Theater in Pakistan is surprisingly strong. You might assume there to be a negative perception of American genres. The opposite is true,” says director John Ferguson. “American Voices has witnessed huge audiences for an array of genres ranging from Bluegrass and Jazz to Hip Hop and Broadway over our 12 years of engagement in Pakistan.”
Ferguson also notes that this project builds on existing interest and capacity. There is a strong legacy of English language theater in the country, and several amateur and professional companies producing musicals in Karachi and Islamabad. There have even been several original Pakistani-themed musicals written in recent years. American Voices auditioned over 50 talents nationwide before selecting a brilliant cast of 7 young singers, actors, and dancers for this revue: Broadway Bridges Pakistan-USA.
These performers range from lifelong theater fanatics to established young pop singers, from TV directors to one of the first generation of improv comedians in Pakistan. The variety of experience and youthful enthusiasm promises to put a new spin on the hit songs selected. The revue cast will rehearse intensively for one week before hitting the road in early November. Then the revue will tour Pakistan’s largest cities, Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.
"There is a stunning amount of talent in Pakistan,” reflects Ferguson. “Such diplomatic engagement initiatives are often referred to as ‘soft power’ or ‘cultural diplomacy’ and allow all participants to focus on the shared values and artistic traditions that unite us and demonstrate our shared humanity.”
“I first experienced the Broadway Bridges program in Islamabad in 2010. This first contact between our young professional theater company and experienced professionals from New York gave us the shot-in-the-arm we needed to move forward with a production of ‘The Producers’ that same year,” explains Karachi-based singer-songwriter Natasha Ejaz. “I have since attended several Broadway Bridges trainings in Thailand and they have been essential to the development of my musical theater skills.”
About Broadway Bridges
The concept of the ‘triple threat’, a performer equally skilled in acting, singing and dance, is unique to the U.S. and Broadway Bridges offers training in these three fields to aspiring young performers who usually only have training in one art form. Through training in singing, acting and dance, young professionals learn solo and ensembles selections from musical favorites such as Rent, West Side Story, Grease, Wicked and Footloose and knit these diverse selections into a cohesive Revue.
The Broadway Bridges program is celebrating is 16th year with an illustrious history of bringing the first Broadway performances to nations such as Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Jordan and Kurdistan (Iraq). This is the second program in Pakistan, the first being a tour of the country in 2010 with excerpts from Footloose and Hairspray.
As part of the American Voices theater training program, students learn the technical aspects of putting on a show, such as sound, lighting, scenery and costume.In addition, American Voices provides courses on teacher training in adult and children’s theater.