PictureMichael Riedel talking with students
Michael Riedel is the theater columnist for the New York Post, and co-host of the weekly talk show Theater Talk on PBS. His recently published book, RAZZLE DAZZLE: The Battle for Broadway, has been praised by The Washington Post, New York Times and others for pulling back the curtain on the fascinating, sometimes gritty and controversial behind-the-scenes world of one of the most famous entertainment empires ever - Broadway. 
Vanity Fair has said of him:
"Half of Broadway hates him. The other half leaks to him." 
And described him as the "assassin of Broadway".

Riedel visited DC's School Without Walls High School with FABUM artistic director Jameson Freeman on Friday, May 20th, and shared some amazing stories stories from his personal and professional journeys with a large and enthusiastic group of students. He spoke about the connection between creativity and personal growth, the importance of passion, as well as some inside scoops about a few of Broadway's biggest productions and personalities. The thoughtful questions from students kept coming until the school day ended. 

School Without Walls is unique in that its student body has young people from all eight of DC's Wards. 

Riedel was in Washington, DC to receive the Marfield Prize/National Award for Arts Writing from the Arts Club of Washington. FABUM coordinated with Sass Brown, administrator of the award, to bring Riedel to the DC public charter school before he returned to New York City.

RAZZLE DAZZLE is a vivid biography of Broadway itself, full of larger-than-life characters. It begins with the inimitable story of the three Shubert brothers, theatre moguls who had a presence across the country and by the start of the Depression owned and operated some of New York’s most important and prestigious theatres. But by the 1970s, Times Square had become the seedy symbol of the city’s decline, and the Shubert Organization found itself losing money and business as tourism fell off and theaters were demolished to make room for parking lots. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup. While battling corporate intrigue, personal betrayals, and criminal investigations, Jacobs and Schoenfeld managed to solidify their power and turned collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world. They went on to revitalize Times Square, change the face of New York City, and produce many of Broadway’s most iconic productions, including A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia!

In RAZZLE DAZZLEthe drama on stage is often overshadowed by the intrigues behind the scenes. Drawing on extensive interviews and research, Riedel has created a comprehensive insider’s look like no other, examining influential figures and Broadway legends such as Michael Bennett, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hal Prince, Frank Rich, and more while exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and—of course—scintillating gossip. This is a great story, told with wit and passion as only Broadway’s most respected (and feared) commentator could. 

Pictures from the afternoon:

On Tuesday, March 17th, Members of FABUM's Board of Directors as well as parents and friends gathered at the Arts Club of Washington for a retrospective on Youth Program FABUM's last year...and to honor interns Zawadi Carroll and Liz Williams on their recent college admittance, upcoming high school graduation...and their FULL college scholarships! 

Both Zawadi and Liz have been working with FABUM as interns as well as volunteering for community service hours. They have been part of several major projects, including the world premiere of the performance work See You See in December of 2014.

Zawadi has been with FABUM since the beginning of 2014, and Liz joined up with us during the summer.

We will miss them when they go, but this is not good-bye...it is good luck! 

FABUM interns Zawadi and Liz got a tour of the World Bank today with the worldly Flavius Mihaies, who is also a writer and occasional actor. Fun fact: World Bank employees hold their own theatre productions sometimes! The interns saw cultural art collections, talked about how interconnected the world is and the role of global institutions, as well as how our choices make it possible to have an inspiring, meaningful and artistic life journey no matter what field one pursues!
Heather Pultz and Jameson Freeman flank young artists from School Without Walls High School: (from left) Meaghan Samuels, Zawadi Carroll, Christina Hollinsed, and Jahni Threatt
Thursday, March 27th, educator and artist Heather Pultz and FABUM artistic director Jameson Freeman brought four students from School Without Walls High School to the historic Arts Club of Washington for an evening event to exhibit their original creations following "Draw-In Lunch/Hearts for the Arts" classroom activities. The young women shared insight about their artistic process with those in attendance. Their art work was in company too, as it shared a room with pieces by famous Taiwan artist Yuan Chin-Taa and the American painter (and former Arts Club President) Jack Hannalu. The students' "self-portraits" were marvelously non-traditional, and it was wonderful to celebrate their individualism and talent!
AND...our inaugural FABUM associates (now in college) stopped by to support their former classmates! FABUM's first interns, Kelsea Johnson and Eva Meier made an appearance at the exhibition. Kelsea helped with our first Dolce Revolution Project, and both Kelsea and Eva were part of the second DRP: Dream Wedding, as well as numerous creative social events! They are both talented dancers and choreographers.
Kelsea Johnson, Jameson Freeman, Eva Meier
PictureFABUM youth associate Zawadi Carroll with Tanya Williams Wetenhall
When we asked new FABUM Associate Zawadi Carroll what aspect of artistic expression interests her most, she had to think about... So we rephrased the question: 'What art form interests you now?' She responded with fashion and design. As the first installment of the "Professionals in the Arts" component of Youth Program FABUM for 2014, we introduced Zawadi to the remarkable Tanya Wetehall.

Tanya Williams Wetenhall’s career spans the performing arts, costume studies, museums, and diplomacy. She has managed US tours of foreign dance companies, as well as individual artists touring Europe; directed fashion shows; worked as a cultural liaison for special interest groups visiting Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe; and was a Specialist for the government of The United States at the US embassies in Moscow and Rome. Her recent projects include researching and designing museum exhibitions pertaining to costume history, design and the performing arts, in the US and abroad, as well as consulting for museums. Wetenhall holds an M.A. in Fashion and Textile Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) and has taught in FIT's graduate program and in the graduate costume studies program at New York University. She has developed and taught courses on period styles, the history of the performing and visual arts of Russia, ballet history, and has lectured and written on elements of Russian costume.

Zawadi: On Wednesday, February 26th I got to sit down with the amazing Tanya Wetenhall and have a coffee chat about her life and career. From the get go Mrs. Wetenhall was extremely open and friendly, she was bursting with energy and ready to share. We started all the way back at one of her first real fashion jobs with a major designer in the industry at the time. She said they hired her because of how fast she could find her pen and notepad in her purse, showing how organized she is. From this experience she taught me that fashion is a very judgmental industry. Nothing goes overlooked.

Ms. Wetenhall also shared her experiences with travel. Some of the places she has traveled include London, Russia, Paris, and Italy. She shared how each place had a distinct sense of fashion, which was a direct reflection of their culture. I was not aware how diplomatic that not just fashion, but also the arts was globally. When art is showcased for one nation to another it can be very political. From her I learned, that especially in this generation a culture will appeal to or mock other cultures rather than showcasing their own, this is largely due to the shipping of the manufacturing of goods overseas, as well as the Internet and is why we now see universal trends.

But no matter how new these trends may seem, Ms. Wetenhall being a teacher of Fashion History at GWU, shared that fashion always repeats itself. Sometimes without even knowing it we are reflecting and recycling styles from the past. I asked her for advice for a young person, like myself, interested in fashion. Some major points were to study classical art by going to museums and understanding major art styles. By building a visual database I could immediately see where a work of fashion may have gotten its influence from, and be aware of my inspirations. She also stressed the importance of knowing textiles and understanding the way the industry worked. One might have to start small, like she did as an assistant and work their way up as she did to achieve all that she has today!

FABUM associate artistic director Nichola Hays and youth associate Zawadi Carroll listening to Tanya Wetenhall answer questions about the luminaries she's worked with, her travels, and her thoughts on fashion, culture and the role of arts in diplomacy.
Jameson Freeman and Nichola Hays hosted a wonderful group of bright and talented young students as well as board members, volunteers and mentors from First Star on Saturday, December 7th at The Arts Club of Washington. The students were given a private tour of the historic building (the former home of President James Monroe), enjoyed a delicious lunch made by the club's executive chef, and engaged in a theatrical workshop. Artistic Director Freeman asked the students to choose a character to play from a list of roles based on a brief description of the character. As each group and each scene then read the characters' lines, more about the characters were revealed, and the entire group then had a discussion about all the roles we embody in our daily lives (sibling, friend, professional), and how those roles adapt and change. Some students then shared original poetry and even an original rapThe , and others sang some of their favorite songs. The FABUM team was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work and connect with these young people and First Star. As an organization, we look forward to expanding our efforts to promote self-actualization and strength through artistic activities and self-expression. 
As part of Youth Program FABUM, Associates participate in a professional photoshoot when they leave the program in order to supply them with headshots and portfolio pictures. Check out some of the candids from Sunday's shoot with Dented Lens Photography on our Facebook page, as well as some video clips and more. Be sure to Like us!

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The FABUM Associates receiving applause.
It is a bittersweet time as summer approaches. The two current FABUM Associates, Kelsea Johnson and Eva Meier, are graduating from School Without Walls in June. As they prepare to move onto the next phase in their educational and individual journeys, we wanted to honor them for their contributions over the last year. They have taken part in the organizing and implementing of performances and fundraisers, events and exhibitions. They have met diverse and talented professionals across a spectrum of artistic disciplines. 

You have followed them on this blog, on Facebook and maybe even met them at one of our supercool events. Some of you joined us Thursday afternoon at The Arts Club of Washington to see a showcase of original choreography and dancing talent. Artistic director Jameson Freeman and managing director Lisa Grimes were joined by Heather Pultz of School Without Walls and Nichola Hayes of The Arts Club, as well as past YPF mentor Dana Tai Soon Burgess in presenting the afternoon's program. An end-of-year stipend was awarded following the performance, which was generously sponsored by FABUM Board member Laura Livoy.

This was an opportunity for the two young women to exhibit their own brilliance, as they have assisted with the exhibiting of others' for the last year. They're not leaving yet! We still have The 2nd Dolce Revolution Project to get through, but Thursday was a marvelous, pre-graduation gathering to acknowledge two 'dolce' people.

Canaan Rubin is a veteran writer, producer and director of television and new media. After a fifteen-year tenure with Entertainment Tonight, Rubin has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood. As creator of successful programming such as MTV's international hit show Duets, he has established himself in the entertainment industry as someone who is consistently relied upon by network executives and top producers to bring stories to life creatively on camera and deliver unique content. He currently executive produces the fashion series Trends for Zappos Couture.

Part of FABUM's internship program is to expose young people to diverse and accomplished individuals in the arts community. While spending some time back in Washington, DC (where he's originally from) this week, Rubin and Artistic Director Jameson Freeman met with our current FABUM Associates, Kelsea Johnson and Eva Meier.

Kelsea Johnson:  On Wednesday, Eva and I had the opportunity to meet Canaan Rubin. Canaan has worked his way up in the production industry, beginning as a student at American University. He is noted for his work with MTV and other notable companies such as VH1 and CBS. Rubin was able to offer wonderful advice on pursuing a career in the arts industry while in college. He told us of his decision to leave the small town of Ithaca, New York for Washington, DC. This transition ultimately got him the internship that landed him in California. It was a pleasure meeting Canaan. He’s an inspiring example of a self-driven individual who achieved success in his field.

Eve Meier:  This past week I had the honor of meeting Jameson Freeman’s friend and colleague, Canaan Rubin. Mr. Freeman describes Rubin as “self-made” in his line of work, something we all know to be a triumph in the arts world. After graduating from American University in 1994, he was immediately swept up by Entertainment Tonight, stationed in Los Angeles, working to promote the company against its competitors like Access Hollywood and Extra After numerous years and many promotions, Rubin left ET for the world of reality TV, creating and directing shows like Duets. Sitting at a Starbucks downtown, my coworker, Kelsea and I had the pleasure of meeting Rubin. Through the LA glamour, it was clear that he has been passionate about his work from the start. We discussed his work in LA and what it has been like to work with such an array of people. I am not in the slightest surprised that Rubin has made it to the position he is in today, simply because it was so apparent about how much he loves what he does, and how much drive he still has to do it.

FABUM launched an 'apprentice program' in December, 2011 which has evolved into an official internship for arts-interested students in Washington, D.C. Meet our current 'FABUM Associates':

Kelsea Johnson is a senior at School Without Walls and enjoys dance in addition to her love for theatre. She has performed in shows such as The Miser & has been included in locally-filmed documentaries & public service announcements. Kelsea was part of FABUM’s inaugural performance season, “The 1st Dolce Revolution Project”, assisting in the process of rehearsals, event-organizing and doing everything from greeting show-goers to stage lights to props management. She is very excited to have this revolutionary internship with FABUM.

Eva Meier is currently a senior at School Without Walls High School. She has been dancing for ten years and is now the captain of the School Without Walls Contemporary Dance Team. Eva began her training at the Washington School of Ballet and studied there for four years. Throughout her dancing life she has performed at the Kennedy Center, the GWU Lisner Auditorium, the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore and more.  She plans on continuing her education in the performing arts throughout university when she graduates in June of 2013. Eva is excited to be a member of the FABUM team and looks forward to having a very dolce year working alongside them.