THE BLOG
06/15/2010 06:06 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bringing Some Glee to High School Musicals and Helping Teachers Be American Idols

Take a bow, Finn, Quinn, Puck, Mercedes, Artie, Emma and the rest of you Glee characters. Hey, Troy, Gabriella Sharpay and Chad, break a leg in the next High School Musical. Thanks, Simon, Ryan and Simon, and keep up the good work.

The casts and creators of these shows and modern-day Ted Mack talent scouts like Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller who encourage people to become the next American Idol are doing a great service for our public schools.

In these days of tremendous cutbacks across the board, and certainly in the arts, the part of our business that licenses "Broadway musicals in a box" to elementary, middle and high schools has never had as many schools signing up to be in show business.

Those newly-popular kids who sing and dance and perform (without a football or pom pom) have made school productions and their stars way awesome, dude, and cool. Capitalizing on the kids' re-discovery of the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney overused phrase, "Let's put on a show," many of the schools, now, for the first time, have programs that build teamwork, self-esteem, cooperation and other life lessons that do not involve being good at sports. That's right. For the first time, and they are putting resources that often went to athletics and superficial values into their music and theater programs.

At Music Theatre International, the world's leading dramatic licensing agency, we started designing programs for schools in the late 1990s. The goal was not profit-driven. We wanted to introduce pre-teens and teens to musical theater. We knew they could use their imaginations and have fun while improving attention span, reading skills and their social skills. They would also learn to get along as a community and collaborate on events where the pay-off was peer recognition and teacher and family perceptions of them in new and positive ways.

If only earlier television musicals such as Cop Rock or Viva Laughlin had worked, Generation X and the early Millennials might also be singing "Tomorrow" with Annie and "Tonight" with Tony and Maria. Oh, well...for now. I'll settle for "We're All in this Together" or "You Are the Music in Me" because that's what it takes to get musical theater programs back into schools and for the young people to discover the treasures of American musical theater.

In fact, I'm downright gleeful.