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Musical By Drew University Professors Provides Learning, Performing Experience for Students

“Airborne: A Bessie Coleman Story” features Drew professors as dramaturg, choreographer

May 2024 – Two Drew University professors have turned their involvement in the production of “Airborne: A Bessie Coleman Story” into a hands-on learning experience for students.

Professor of Theatre Arts and Chair of Theatre & Dance Lisa Brenner is serving as the musical’s dramaturg while Assistant Professor of Dance Kimani Fowlin is choreographer.

“I’ve been working as a dramaturg on this musical for the past two years,” said Brenner. “I always look for opportunities to connect my students to my professional work outside of Drew.”

Brenner has brought the musical’s writer into her dramaturgy courses and has had classes virtually sit in on readings of earlier drafts.

Drew students have active roles in the production according to their interests, including performing in the concert reading, or serving as assistants to Brenner, Fowlin, and the production’s director, musical director, or stage manager.

“The students are getting to meet and work alongside industry professionals, several of whom work on Broadway,” said Brenner.

“They had a formal Q&A with industry professionals, but also got to interact with them informally as well. We went to see ‘The Wiz’ on Broadway, and are seeing the process of script development in real time. They are leaving with an incredible credit on their resume.”

A reading of “Airborne: A Bessie Coleman Story” is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. in Brooklyn.

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