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Broadway Books First Class entered the world on July 3, 2015 at 1:23 pm. It started with a simple Facebook post which read, 

"I want to start a monthly reading series. I am thinking of calling it 'Broadway First Class'. Broadway performers (past and present) will stop by my First Grade classroom and read a children's book. The visits will be documented and used to promote and build excitement about literacy and the arts for ALL children. Any Broadway folks interested in supporting my vision?"

​The response was overwhelming and immediate. Well connected friends sent me encouragement and introductions to performers who might be willing to participate. Before the day was through I had a message from Tony Award Winner Gregory Jbara, "I'm interested!" This generous and kind man set the wheels in motion.  

In less than 24 hours performers were scheduled through March 2016. The list even included my former First Grade student - already a Broadway veteran by Age 15 - Eden Duncan-Smith! I continue to be in awe of the willingness of these incredible performers to support literacy in our public schools.  

I can state that it was an easy birth but as with any new life the gestation period started long before that hot July afternoon. I have a background in performing arts and a great interest in theater so I often find myself surrounded by talented individuals who "tread the boards".

Over the years I have invited performers to stop by my classroom and read a book. The open-ended nature of that invitation more or less ensured that it would float forever in the atmosphere. No one stopped by.

In May 2015 I graduated with my doctorate and found myself suddenly gifted with time and energy to pour into another project. Frustrated by budget cuts in arts programs I thought it was time to do something to celebrate the Arts and the rich cultural offerings of New York City.  

What is more NYC than Broadway?  

Combining the arts with children's literature is a journey I have been traveling my whole life - from performer to teacher - I have found a beautiful way to combine my interests. Thank you to all of you for supporting this program.


Gary Wellbrock

Performing How The I Becomes The We on the High Line with Onudeah (Oni) Nicolarakis, Siena Rafter, John McGinty, Jon Riddleberger, Darren (Dax) Fudenske, and Alexandria Wailes (Directed by Kim Weild)

Broadway Books First Class