Joelle Anselmo, Story Editor
Junior Sadie Seelert has been involved in the arts all her life. She starred as Jane Banks in Disney’s Mary Poppins on Broadway when she was nine years old. Sadie also had a lead role in a movie on Netflix, #Horror, at age 12. She was Lavinia in the Off-Broadway American Theatre Premier of A Little Princess with Kids Of The Arts at the Signature Theatre also at age 12.
Recently, Sadie, switched from being in the spotlight to aiding kids who don’t have access to theater programs at all. In 2016, she became an ambassador at Project Broadway, a nonprofit organization that helps raise funds to give scholarships to students who are interested in the arts.
The program stemmed from Broadway Workshop, founded in 2007 by the director Marc Tumminelli. Throughout his acting career, he teached and directed young kids, “It started to become very clear that working with young actors was where my passion was. I started Broadway Workshop to create a program I would have loved to have done as a kid,” he said.
He realized there were children who couldn’t afford to participate in the program and decided to start Project Broadway. With the program, students who normally cannot afford to engage in their interests of arts, can without the financial burden.
Every year Mr. Tumminelli invites famous Broadway performers who help teach the kids. “What is so special at Broadway Workshop is we pull out all the stops, we are able to bring in the biggest Broadway stars to teach,” he said.
Sadie has been with the program since she was seven years old and has been influenced by those around her. She recently starred as Catherine* in their 2016 Main Stage Production of Pippin. “It’s been a thrill to see her grow up into an incredible performer,” Mr. Tumminelli said. She decided she wanted to get more involved as many of her friends are part of the ambassador circle.
An ambassador’s job at Project Broadway is to discuss ways to fundraise money and spread the program to a wider audience. Sadie meets every month with the other student ambassadors to talk about their ideas. “We know her enthusiasm and talent will make a huge impact on the future of Project Broadway and Broadway Workshop,” Mr. Tumminelli said. They also have the opportunity to special events and benefit concerts throughout the year.
Sadie’s mother, Susan Seelert, feels that Project Broadway has benefitted Sadie by giving her a new perspective in the arts. “I think Sadie benefits from working with kids outside of Fairfield County because she is able to demonstrate to them the joy the arts can bring to anyone in any place or circumstance,” she said. learned many leadership skills and moral lessons for the future by being reminded of those less fortunate around her, “Bringing those opportunities to younger and less fortunate kids has broadened my horizons and made me a better person,” she said.
Sadie has many aspirations and ideas on how to improve Project Broadway in the future, “We have a lot more learning and growing to do but with each step along the way and each kid we bring a scholarship to, it’s another step to closer to fulfilling that kid’s dream,” she said. Sadie enjoys the program and thinks anyone that’s interested in the arts should join. “It gives you a certain amount of humility as a person and I think you need that as a performer.” she said.
*In the print issue her role was misidentified as Mary Poppins