Inside Broadway brings live theater to kids at Manhattan school

INWOOD, Manhattan (WABC) -- While Broadway theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a non-profit group continues to bring the magic of live theater to New York City's public schools.

Inside Broadway has been doing it since 1982, and their latest initiative is a six-week course for kids ages 10 and 11.

What makes this even more meaningful is the fact the class that Linedy Genao is teaching remotely is in honor of her late friend and mentor, after Broadway performer Doreen Montalvo died suddenly last October at the age of 56.

"Doreen was a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, and anywhere and everywhere she repped her people, her community," Genao said. "She dedicated her life to giving back, so I feel her love and her energy with me as I'm teaching these children."

Montalvo's spirit is evident in photos with Lin-Manuel Miranda, as her Broadway debut came in his musical "In The Heights."

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Roughly 65% of the nation's movie theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, including in New York City. But despite that, Denzel Washington is proving his drawing power again -- with help from Rami Malek and Jared Leto.

Genao now teaches 5th and 6th graders as part of the Inside Broadway program, which is donating her classes to P.S. 5 in Inwood free of charge.

This is especially important because budget cuts have affected arts program for kids, says Principal Danielle Keanne.

"We've been able to give them that moment to just unleash and have fun," Keanne said.

She notes this opportunity comes after her students have spent months learning from home.

"Remote learning alone has affected them emotionally and socially, and this gives them that light of just having fun and connecting to the world again," she said.

Teaching dance virtually has its challenges, but these kids don't seem to mind and had high praise for their teacher.

"She was very good, very nice," 5th grader Karen Ramirez said. "She let us practice on our own so we could get the hang of it."

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Disney-Pixar's "Soul," currently streaming on Disney+, taps into a rich vein of African-American culture to tell the story of a Queens music teacher who dreams of becoming a great jazz musician.

Her classmate, Derek De Jesus, appreciated the experience.

"I get confidence, and I feel more secure about myself," he said. "I love dancing."

Dancing is done while socially distanced, and it is dancing with a purpose.

"This is more than just having fun," Keanne said. "It's really making a moment to keep someone's life a memory."

The students plan to present the dances they have learned live on Zoom this coming Thursday just after 1 p.m.

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