Lainie Munro is the Artistic Director of “The Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program”- a program she created in 2001 that provides aspiring young performers in BDC's Children & Teen Program the opportunity to work with and learn from professional dancers in the Broadway community. The young performer is matched with a Broadway professional who's own personality, style and interests compliment the child; a true "Big Brother" or "Big Sister." The children meet for four Sundays at the Broadway Dance Center, working side by side with their Big Brother or Sister rehearsing a production number choreographed by Ms. Munro. Through rehearsals and a performance, the children gain an invaluable experience. They learn about performing/acting with a partner, staging, and professional work ethics. The wealth of knowledge and experience that each Big Brother or Sister brings to the table, they learn a lot about the "business" of show business and the hard work and discipline involved in making a career as a professional performer.
Lainie was selected as a finalist for the Woman’s Day Magazine Awards, “Women That Inspire Us”, for her work with the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program.
Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister 2015 Cast
This year’s cast performs May 17, 2015 at the Symphony Space in New York City.
2015 Big Sisters and Big Brother: TANYA BIRL, JANELLE NEAL, BYRON ST. CYR, HEATHER PARCELLS, COLLEEN HAWKS, HOLLY ANN BUTLER, LEA KOHL, JENNIFER SWIDERSKI, TARI KELLY, and KRISTEN BETH WILLIAMS
2015 Little Sisters and Little Brother: Skye Jackson-Williams, Hailey Arango, Brando Ortiz, Carli Seigelstein, Starr Shapiro, Chelsea Davis, Sawyer Niehaus, Katarina Fradenburg, Lara Bamberger, and Courtney File.
Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister 2012 Cast
Studio 10D at Ripley-Grier was abuzz with excitement – it was the final rehearsal of the 2012 Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister program. The students from Broadway Dance Center’s Children and Teen Program were clad in color coordinated T-shirts matching their Broadway star big brother or sister.
In the center of the room, “little orange” was teaching her Big Sis a complicated handshake like the one in “The Parent Trap.” “Big blue” was stage left, reviewing choreography with her “mini me.” At 9:15pm sharp, Lainie Munro, founder and choreographer of the Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program, called “places” for the final run-through.
The jazzy song began, “Dancin’ Fool” from Copacabana, and the dancers began tap-dancin’ away. The energy of the room was as bright as the dancers’ neon T-shirts. Each pair of siblings got a chance to strut their stuff on stage before the entire cast broke into unison. Their tapping feet and smiling faces seemed so contagious that the audience of parents found themselves clapping and cheering along with the dancers.
“I’m having a lot of fun!” said Ayonna, a Little Sister. “Lainie pushed me further than I knew I could go as a dancer.”
Ms. Munro does challenge the young dancers with complex tap technique and character choices – but the kids step up to the plate and shine next to their Broadway siblings.
“I’m a big sister – I was always teaching my little sister and rehearsing her. I guess I was born to be a teacher!” said Munro, who also teaches tap and theater classes at Broadway Dance Center. “But I always longed for a big sister, or mentor, of my own to show me the ropes of becoming a Broadway performer.”
After performing in national tours and regional theaters across the country, Ms. Munro started working at Broadway Dance Center in the Children and Teen’s Program (CTP). “It was there,” said Munro, “that I realized how talented those young dancers were and was motivated to match the kids up with professional Broadway mentors.”
Inspired by the original Big Brother/Big Sister Program, Ms. Munro founded the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program in 2001 to provide aspiring young performers ages 9-17 a unique opportunity to work with Broadway professionals one-on-one, through rehearsals and performance of a production number.
“The children gain an invaluable experience,” said Munro. “They learn about performing/acting with a partner, staging, and professional work ethics. They learn a lot about the ‘business’ of show business and the hard work and discipline involved in making a career as a professional performer.” “Lainie is the best – there’s truly no one like her,” said Marie, whose daughter, Mariah is in her final year at BDC’s CTP and will be heading to study pre-med at Drew University next fall. “Lainie brings out the best in her dancers. If you watch Lainie’s class, you think you’re watching a Broadway rehearsal.”
It is no surprise that Ms. Munro was selected as a finalist for the 2003 Woman’s Day Magazine Awards, “Women That Inspire Us”, for her work with the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program. After an audition in the spring, children from BDC’s CTP are selected and matched with a professional dancer whose own personality, style and interests compliment the child – a true “Big Brother” or “Big Sister.”
“It’s a very personal process,” explained Munro. ” I start with picking the kids and then I go out into the theater community and try to match each kid with a performer. I’ll call up friends or e-mail performers I’ve seen in shows or deliver a letter to the stage door.” “Even his mom thinks Henry and I are brothers,” said Jeremy Benton, who starred in Broadway’s “42nd Street” and “The Producers” film. “When I dance with him, I get flashbacks to when I was his age. It’s such a gratifying experience. And Henry’s a great little tapper – I have to work to keep up with him!”
The children meet on 4 Sunday evenings (a total of just 8 hours), rehearsing side-by-side with their Big Brother or Big Sister. The program is entirely volunteer-based and the professionals from the Broadway and NY dance community donate their time and talent to mentor and dance with a child or teenager.
Since the Program’s inception in 2001, 115 Broadway dancers have participated as Big Brothers and Sisters. Many Little Brothers and Sisters have already gone on to professional careers in dance, such as one of this year’s Big Sisters, Gabrielle Salvatto (Dance Theatre of Harlem, Juilliard grad and Little Sister alum 2001) and Lily Balogh (New York City Ballet and Little Sister alum 2004).
“I am so proud of my daughter, Amanda,” said her father, Luis. “Amanda has dreamt of becoming a dancer ever since we relocated to New York from Puerto Rico. Her confidence and joy have increased so much. The Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister program is an incredible opportunity for her, a step closer to her dream to dance on Broadway.”
2012 Big Brothers and Sisters: JEREMY BENTON, SUMMER BROYHILL, DENA DIGIACINTO, KELLY JACOBS, JULIA KNITEL, LEA KOHL, MICHELLE LOUCADOUX, DANELLE MORGAN, JANELLE NEAL, GABRIELLE SALVATTO
Collectively the above performers are currently appearing in or have appeared in the following Broadway shows and dance companies: 42ND STREET (Broadway Revival and 1st National Tour) ANYTHING GOES MARY POPPINS (Broadway and 1st National Tour) A CHORUS LINE (Revival) WHITE CHRISTMAS (1st National Tour) BYE BYE BIRDIE HAIRSPRAY THE LITTLE MERMAID BEAUTY AND THE BEAST SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1st National Tour) THE PRODUCERS (movie) DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM and THE RADIO CITY ROCKETTES
The Little Brothers and Sisters range in age from 9 years old to 17 years old, and are enrolled in BDC’s Children/Teen Program:
Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister 2011 Cast
year's Broadway Big Brothers and Big Sisters:
Brothers and Sisters:
Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister 2009 Cast
2009 Broadway Big Brothers and Big Sisters:
Brothers and Sisters:
For more information, visit Broadway Dance Center's page.