Since 2006, the non-profit has provided training across the country for aspiring performers of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Professional actors and choreographers lead weeklong master classes, capped off by musical revues in which students perform with the pros. More than 100 alums have been cast in Broadway shows and tours through connections made at Broadway Dreams.
Led by founder and president Annette Tanner, the program recently expanded to include international destinations, including Moscow. A team including Adams and Newell returned a few weeks ago from Fortalenza, Brazil, where they mentored more than 60 students and had three sold-out showcases.
Musical numbers included “Land of Lola” from Kinky Boots, “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles, and “Come Together,” an original song Tanner says “truly expresses acceptance and love across cultures and continents.”
“The language barrier is a beautiful obstacle that inevitably forces us to communicate in a much more specific way—through emotion and physicality,” says Adams, a popular Instastud who starred in Broadway shows like A Chorus Line, Guys and Dolls, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. “Art has the power to unite and transcend all languages.”
Fortalenza made headlines in March as the town where Brazilian trans woman Dandara dos Santos was brutally murdered. It was reported last year that almost half of all transgender murders in the world take place in Brazil, and more than 40% of all anti-LGBT violence. In fact, one person is killed almost every day in a transphobic or homophobic attack.
“The struggle to be out and proud is real anywhere you go, and it was inspiring for everyone in Brazil to see Nick and Alex as examples of beautifully empowered individuals,” Tanner says.
“We encourage students to love themselves, be individuals, and be proud of who they are,” Adams adds. “It’s important for them to see that success can come to those who work hard—period. They shouldn’t ever feel embarrassed or limited because of who they are or who they love.”
“Working on our ‘I Am What I Am’ number, we spent hours hearing the personal stories of our performers,” Tanner continues. “For several of the men, it was their first time sharing—ever. It makes a huge difference to stop, listen, and say that you love and are loved. That’s what life is all about, and it was on display when everyone came together to sing.”