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  • Climate change, Gabi Goes Green! take center stage at GSP


    L to R: Lee Ballin, Head of Sustainable Business Programs, Bloomberg Global Sustainability Group; Jim Jack, Director of Education and Outreach, George Street Playhouse; Barry Wyner, Writer, Gabi Goes Green!; Sarah Cassell, GSP Education Touring Theatre Company; Kelly Kirkley, GSP Education Touring Theatre Company; Brittany Sambogna, GSP Education Touring Theatre Company; Adam McDowell, GSP Education Touring Theatre Company; Monica Hilliard, Bloomberg; Frederick Egenolf, Director of Community Affairs, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Andrew Miller, Bloomberg; Nanette Smith, Manager of Global Philanthropy and Engagement, Bloomberg; and Helen Ritchie, Bloomberg. (Photo by Brian Kelley/GSP)

    Click for additional photos from this event


    By Brian Kelley

    GSP Marketing & PR Associate

    New Jersey is a “hotspot” when it comes to climate change, Dr. Anthony Broccoli, professor and chair of the department of environmental sciences at Rutgers University, told a crowd of educators and colleagues during his keynote at a Spotlight on Environmental Education conference held at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., on Wednesday, April 1.

    The event also featured the world premiere of the GSP Educational Touring Theatre's latest musical, Gabi Goes Green! -- a show that explores how individual choices impact the environment and global climate, and what we can do to ensure a more sustainable future.  Approximately 90 area fourth- and fifth-graders joined the crowd for the performance and had an opportunity to participate in a post-play discussion with the cast.

    Broccoli shared with the crowd images produced by computer models showing projected future climate change that indicated a “dramatically warmer climate” by the year 2100.

    “Climate change...is especially important to us in New Jersey,” said Broccoli.  “Sea level along the New Jersey coast has increased 16 inches over the last 100 years, and it’s rising more rapidly here than the global average because the land is sinking.”

    Broccoli added that research conducted by Rutgers and Tufts University shows sea level increasing 7 to 16 inches by 2030.  By the end of the 21st century, models show a 30-71 inch rise in sea level, with a best estimate of 42 inches.

    In addition to flooding anticipated in a warmer world due to rising seas and more-intense storms, many locations--especially those in the sub tropics and middle latitudes--will experience prolonged dry spells, according to Broccoli.

    While the news isn’t exactly promising, there is hope...and that’s where Gabi Goes Green! comes in.

    The titular heroine of Gabi Goes Green! knows first-hand the effects of climate change. Gabi is a 14-year old who must get used to a new home and school after her former home--in her family for three generations--is destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  A wish to return home transforms Gabi into the Green Hero. Armed with clean energy and sustainable choices, the Green Hero takes on Captain Carbon in a battle for the planet’s survival.

    With book and lyrics by Barry Wyner and music by Daniel Israel, the same creative duo behind the touring company’s Austin the Unstoppable, the upbeat musical comedy is sure to entertain student audiences, while also stressing the seriousness of climate change and the positive choices each of us can make to ensure a sustainable future.  The play was commissioned by George Street Playhouse through the Victoria J. Mastrobuono New Work Development Program and a grant from Bloomberg. Funding was also provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Betty Wold Johnson and the Merrill G. & Emita E. Hastings Foundation. Additional support was provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

    “We want Gabi Goes Green! to inspire students to make positive environmental choices in regard to energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Jim Jack, director of the production and GSP’s Director of Education and Outreach. “And Barry and Daniel have once again created something for us that is entertaining as well as engaging.

    “We also wanted to stress the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and generate interest in these areas of study among student audiences,” added Jack.

    In order to produce content that is scientifically accurate, GSP worked with a number of environmental organizations and educational institutions, including Rutgers Climate Institute, Sustainable Jersey for Schools, Clean Ocean Action, NJ Recovery Fund and New Jersey Future, to provide valuable research for the project and to align statewide environmental education objectives with the story content, post-play discussion protocols and study guide materials.

    Gabi Goes Green! is aimed at elementary and middle-school students in grades 3 through 8, reaching approximately 10,000 students annually.  Anticipating a lifetime run of five to seven years, the production is expected to be staged in front of a total 60,000-70,000 young people.

    The schoolchildren watching the Spotlight performance of Gabi Goes Green! responded with overwhelming applause and asked a number of great questions during the post-show discussion.

    “Congratulations on what was a banner day for George Street Playhouse in every way,” said Jim Heston, President of GSP’s Board of Trustees.  “Gabi Goes Green! is an impactful and entertaining production on a very important global issue.

    “Having Anthony Broccoli set the stage with a wonderful presentation on climate change and its implications and impacts was terrific,” added Heston.  “But the true ‘treasure moment’ of the day was the children’s responses and their strong interest in asking questions. They are the audience for Gabi and they not only enjoyed it, but they were engaged as well.  It made them think.”

    Robert Carr, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s director of programs and services/ADA coordinator, echoed Heston’s sentiments.  “The day was quite a triumph for you all,” Carr said.  “It also proved the point that theater is a great conduit for learning and understanding.  The show is a delight as well -- entertaining, thoughtful and poignant. Great work!”

    Gail Winar, professor of theatre and teaching artist, also offered praise for the show.  “Bravo to the director, creative team, designers and cast of Gabi Goes Green!  It was a delightful, entertaining and sneakily educational green valentine of musical theater.”

    The Spotlight event also included workshops conducted by representatives of New Jersey Future, Rutgers Climate Institute and Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

    New Jersey Future is working with a number of municipalities along the state’s coastline to help them better understand and communicate local risks and vulnerabilities -- with educators, parents and students being essential to their efforts.

    The Rutgers Climate Institute presentation was geared toward educating students on the differences between climate and weather, while Sustainable Jersey for Schools discussed its free and voluntary certification program for the state’s PreK-12 public and charter schools as well as the training, grants and resources available to participating schools.

    Attendees were treated to an amazing, vegetarian lunch catered by Elijah’s Promise, the New Brunswick-based community soup kitchen/culinary school/catering service, which provided biodegradable napkins and plates.

  • Save the Date for A Starry Night



    Members of the Development staff are busy stuffing, sealing, addressing and stamping envelopes.  Colorful cards are in stacks, committees are forming and meeting -- it’s Gala time once again at George Street Playhouse! Each season, the Playhouse offers what many in the area believe is the social event of the season – our Annual Gala Benefit.  This year’s fête will be held on Sunday, May 3, in the main ballroom of The Heldrich, the beautiful hotel directly across the street from the Playhouse.  The event begins at 5 pm with a cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by a sit-down dinner for 300 of our closest friends and supporters, and ending with a special cabaret performance featuring many of the stars you have seen on the GSP stage.


    Each year at the Gala, a community leader who has demonstrated a commitment to the arts in New Jersey is awarded the Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award, named after its first recipient.  This year, the Award goes to Stephen K. Jones, the CEO of Robert Wood University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson Health System.   In addition, this year the Board of Trustees of the Playhouse has established The Arthur Laurents Award for Distinguished Artistic Achievement, to be given to the theatre artist who embodies the level of talent and excellence that our good friend and mentor demonstrated in his lifetime.  The inaugural award will go to actress, producer and philanthropist Marlo Thomas.


    Many of our trustees and friends give of their time and energy to make this event a success, starting with this year’s Chairman, Ken Fisher.  Soliciting ads for the commemorative journal will be long-time trustees Lora Tremayne and Jocelyn Schwartzman, sponsorships are headed up by trustee Dr. Penelope Lattimer, tickets and tables chair is trustee Janice Stolar and this year’s auction chairs are Janice Haggerty and Gabriella Vajtay.  Our silent auction is one of the evening’s highlights, featuring exclusive vacations, hard-to-get Broadway tickets, fine jewelry and many other wonderful and beautiful items.  

    As the saying goes, it takes a village to put on a Gala, and we are thrilled and grateful for the extraordinary efforts of the dedicated people listed above.

    So – save the date!!!  Sunday, May 3, at 5 pm!  Be there for this very special event – and bid early and often!!


  • Staff Spotlight: Danielle Kline, Director of Development



    The administration of George Street Playhouse, beyond our Artistic Director David Saint, and Managing Director Kelly Ryman, is divided into five main departments: Artistic, which is charged with selecting, casting and staffing each season’s shows; Production, which not only facilitates our mainstage productions, but also provides support for our education department and the facilities needs of our public spaces and offices; Marketing, which as the name implies, is responsible for getting the word about the Playhouse out to the public, and also responsible for producing most of the Playhouse's publications; Education, which is comprised of our Educational Touring Theatre, our Academy (which offers classes to children and adults) and in-school residencies; and Development, which is charged with raising an enormous part of our operating budget each season (ticket sales only raise about 45% of our total budget).

    New Jersey native Danielle Kline was recently named Director of Development at George Street Playhouse. She comes to us with a wealth of experience, most recently as Associate Director of Development of the Big Apple Circus. Prior to joining the Circus (in a manner of speaking), she spent a considerable amount of time in Washington, DC, working with former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on arts and economic development issues, and later moving to an advisory role in Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign.

    Internationally, Danielle has directed projects in Afghanistan and Liberia and most recently with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, where she provided fundraising, strategic planning, and communications expertise to woman-owned businesses in the local Kyrgyz and Russian languages. While living in Central Asia, she also worked with a Kyrgyz theatre company dedicated to raising awareness of pressing social issues like civic engagement, domestic violence, bride kidnapping, and teen suicide.

    Danielle is a member of the American Democracy Institute and formerly a member of the Arts Industries Policy Forum, developed by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Danielle graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance from Northeastern University, where she was a Matthews Distinguished Honors Scholar for critical undergraduate research and a recipient of the President’s Award for Diversity. Danielle received her M.A. degree in Arts Politics from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.


    Danielle took a few moments out of her busy schedule to chat with us:

    What was your first exposure to the arts?
    Without a doubt, I had a rich childhood filled with visits to museums, dance performances, and plays and musicals, among many other arts and cultural experiences. At the time, those moments seemed special to me, as I'm certain they are to many children. Now, as an adult, I know how fortunate I was to have parents who valued the arts and ensured that cultural experiences were a defining piece of my childhood. Perhaps my first fondest exposure to the arts was in fourth grade when I starred in Ming Lee and the Magic Tree, a play that I would love to see performed again.

    Your background is extremely impressive -- what made you decide to enter the Peace Corps?
    The through line of my entire professional career has been social justice and the more I learned about myself, the more I realized that I had more to learn with regard to selflessness and humility. I joined the Peace Corps to give of myself; however, I came home grateful for the privilege of living abroad in a second-world country, the privilege to learn Kyrgyz and Russian, and the privilege to live and learn from the generous people of Kyrgyzstan.

    Someone with your background and experience could certainly work anywhere - what drew you to George Street Playhouse?First, I wanted to work in a theatre that values smart, engaging, sophisticated work. Secondly, I am a New Jersey native and this opportunity presented itself as the first I've ever had to work professionally in my home state. I couldn't turn that down.

    You have a long weekend with no commitments -- what would you do?
    With 6- and 7-year-old boys at home, I haven't seen a long weekend with no commitments in a very long time. However, a perfect long weekend would involve the opportunity to stay in bed for hours with a cafe au lait and the chance to read my beloved New York Times cover to cover. And yet, good conversation with little boys about planets and turtles while making endless batches of pancakes is equally as perfect.

    We are thrilled that Danielle has joined the George Street Playhouse family – please join us in offering her a warm welcome!!!

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