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TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project sets 2024 ceremony for Monday, June 10 at 5 p.m. at John Jay College

Date: May 30, 2024


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Guests include mentors and current participants from NYC high schools, with a special performance by Broadway legend Lillias White

Mentors include theatre luminaries Kathleen Chalfant, Alexander Dinelaris, Joe DiPietro, Scott Ellis, Stephen Karam, James Lapine, Aubrey Lynch II, Kathleen Marshall, Robert Longbottom, Keith Randolph Smith, and Eric Ulloa

May 30, 2024 – New York, NY – On Monday, June 10 at 5 p.m., TDF will host its annual Wendy Wasserstein Project ceremony at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 West 59th Street). Founded as Open Doors in 1998 by TDF and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, this unique arts mentorship program pairs top theatre professionals with NYC public high school students for a season of shows and conversation. This special celebration will open with a performance by Tony winner Lillias White, whom most of the students saw perform on Broadway in Hadestown.

“TDF’s Wendy Wasserstein Project took hundreds of students to diverse and spectacular shows this bountiful season,” said Ginger Bartkoski Meagher, Director of TDF Education Programs. “We reveled in the wealth of new openings and opportunities to talk about theatre, ourselves, and how we see ourselves in these stories. We brought that heightened perspective and empathy back into our own lives and learned from it. We are lucky to continue to be able to bring New Yorkers to their birthright and celebrate the rich artistic landscape we live in under the guidance of our talented and generous mentors. We are very excited to expand the Wendy Wasserstein Project over the next two years, as well as add more opportunities for our alumni to gather and continue to share theatre!”

Wendy Wasserstein always said that theatregoing “is the birthright of every New Yorker,” and TDF’s Wendy Wasserstein Project operates on that belief. Every season, dedicated theatre and dance professionals mentor groups of eight underserved New York City public high school students, bringing each cohort to six performances on Broadway and beyond throughout the school year. Every outing is followed by a lively post-show discussion, and the students keep journals of their theatre experiences, which are reviewed by and discussed with their mentors. Through this personal and dynamic interaction, TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project fosters a deep appreciation of theatre and an understanding of its relevance in the students’ lives.

In 2012, TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Project became the first arts education program to receive a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. During the 2023-2024 season, 28 mentors worked with 24 groups of students from NYC-area public high schools. To help continue their theatregoing journey, all participants received free TDF memberships.

The 2023-24 TDF Wendy Wasserstein Project mentors and the schools the students attend:


Marc Acito, playwright – Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & the Arts, the Bronx

Mark Brokaw, director – Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, Queens

Carolee Carmello, performer and David Zippel, lyricist/directorThe Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, Manhattan

Kathleen Chalfant, performer - High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology, Brooklyn

Rachel Chanoff, producer/performing arts programmer, and Keith Randolph Smith, performer – Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts, East Orange, NJ

Dawn Chiang, lighting designer – Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy International, the Bronx

Dominic Colón, performer – Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn

Mindi Dickstein, lyricist/book writer – Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School, Staten Island

Joe DiPietro, playwright/lyricist The Baccalaureate School for Global Education, Queens

Alexander Dinelaris, playwright/director – Community School for Social Justice, the Bronx

Ira Mont, stage manager – Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Manhattan

Scott Ellis, director, All Hallows High School, the Bronx

Peter Friedman, performer – Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, the Bronx

Anne Hamburger, producer The Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, Manhattan

Natasha Katz, lighting designer Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, Queens

James Lapine, writer/director, and Stephen Karam, playwright - William Cullen Bryant High School, Queens

Robert Longbottom, director/choreographer – Millennium High School, Manhattan

Aubrey Lynch II, dancer/choreographer - Talent Unlimited High School, Manhattan

Kathleen Marshall, director/choreographer – Bronx Health Sciences High School, the Bronx

Derek McLane, set designer Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn

Dick Scanlan, playwright/director/performer – Science Skills Center High School, Brooklyn

Luis Salgado, dancer/producer – Pan American International High School, Queens

Eric Ulloa, performer/playwright High School of Economics and Finance, Manhattan

Serena Wong, lighting designer, and Leonardo Sandoval, dancer/choreographer Flushing International High School, Queens

Watch a brief video of Wendy Wasserstein in 2003 talking about cofounding the program with TDF (her comments begin 59 seconds into the video).

ABOUT TDF: Founded in 1968, TDF (formerly known as Theatre Development Fund) is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to sharing the power of the performing arts with everyone. TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. We fulfill our mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities, and support the makers of the performing arts.

We are known for our theatregoing programs, including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths (which celebrated 50 years in Times Square in 2023) and the TDF Membership program; TDF Accessibility Programs (including open captioning, audio description, Autism Friendly Performances and the Veterans Theatregoing Program); Education programs (serving more than 10,000 NYC public school students annually), and Community programs (serving 18,000 people in the tristate area); as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs. TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible, and inspirational. To learn more about TDF, go to; Facebook/Instagram/Threads: @tdfnyc.

Below is a list of major donors and funders who support TDF's Education programs:

Anonymous, The Honorable Joseph C. Borelli - New York City Council District 51, The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Angela and Scott Jaggar Foundation, Inc., Phyllis Jo Kubey, Gina Maria Leonetti, Jacqueline LiCalzi, The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, O’Melveny & Myers LLP., The Pinkerton Foundation, RBC Foundation - USA, Scenery Bags, The Shubert Foundation, Andrew and Merrill Silver, Sony USA Foundation, TJX Companies, Inc., Earl D. Weiner

TDF School Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, The New York State Council on the Arts and by the National Endowment for the Arts.