New Partnership Unites Theater Professionals With Students in Musical Theater Studies


The Yip Harburg Foundation and Empire State College Metropolitan Center will officially announce a unique resource partnership for musical theater education at a Special Event on Monday, December 9, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at Empire State College Metropolitan Center SUNY, 325 Hudson Street, 3 fl. The collaboration unites theater professionals with students and offers a new model for public-private partnerships in theater studies that go beyond the familiar university/conservatory models.

At the invitation only event, Yip Harburg songs will be performed by Broadway performers including Jonathan Hadley (“Jersey Boys”) and Jenifer Babiak (“Fiddler on the Roof”). Rare film excepts of the lyricist and his work will be shown with narration by Yip’s son, Ernie Harburg, President of the Yip Harburg Foundation.

yip harburg sings
Yip Harburg sings

The collaboration between the college and the foundation will offer students of the Metropolitan Center an opportunity for unique undergraduate study in the arts and a personalized degree that reflects their interests in Musical Theater. Empire State College (ESC) is ideal for students who need maximum flexibility, including older students returning to college after a hiatus and those who are studying part time around work or family commitments. Such students profit from the college’s flexible approach to learning and the opportunity to earn college credit through work and life experience. The college’s three locations in New York City provide easy access to the vast cultural resources or our urban setting. This enhances the curriculum, since the City becomes a “rich classroom,” providing an array of experiences and activities which can be utilized for credit as students work toward their degrees.

In this partnership, the Yip Harburg Foundation (YHF) offers workshops for ESC credit. They are not exclusively designed for performers, but will appeal to a wide variety of students, for example a performer who wants to direct, a student of the music business who wants to learn songwriting, or a student of economics who wants to learn acting. The workshops will be led by the highest level of Broadway and Entertainment professionals. They now include “Scenes to Songs” with David Brunetti (a director, musical director and vocal coach to many stars on Broadway) and “Theater Dance” with Stephanie Fitttro (actress/dancer on Broadway and in numerous National and European Tours). Workshops do not follow a single formulaic approach; they can be geared to almost all matriculated students who are interested. The Yip Harburg Foundation is also offering a vast array of customized internships that can place students into non-profit theater companies and other venues around NYC.

YHF has donated $4,000 for scholarships to students in the arts at the Metropolitan Center for 2013-2014 and has pledged $4,000 for next year. The Foundation will also be recruiting students for the customized degree in Musical Theater at ESC. Applicants may be performers, directors/choreographers, designers, or practitioners from virtually any aspect of the musical theater business. Free YHF workshops for credit are already underway for ESC students (free training is practically unheard of in NYC). The foundation is also contributing toward a performance component at the Metropolitan Center.

The college will provide applicants from the foundation with pre-enrollment advising, information sessions and other specific presentations when appropriate in addition to providing a modest scholarship and waiver of the college’s orientation fee.

This partnership was developed in collaboration with Cynthia L. Ward, Dean of the college’s Metropolitan Center, and Deena R. Harburg, Executive Vice President and Artistic Director of the foundation.

Those interested may contact the Metropolitan Center at [email protected], or by calling 646 230-1208.

Online admissions information is available at:

More information about affordable SUNY tuition and financial aid is available here:

More info on workshops offered can be found on the Yip Harburg Foundation website:


The Yip Harburg Foundation ( carries on the artistic legacy of E.Y. Harburg, the master lyricist who was “Broadway’s Social Conscience” (his songs included “Brother, Can you Spare a Dime?”) and fought for social and economic justice for all people throughout his whole life. The foundation was created to promote educational opportunity, social and economic justice and world peace. The ESC-YHF partnership is being launched in the 75th Anniversary Year of “The Wizard of Oz,” for which Yip Harburg wrote his most famous lyrics (including “Over the Rainbow”) and edited the final screen play.

The Yip Harburg Foundation’s other educational initiatives include unique Arts in Education programs of many kinds, including Musical Theater programs in underserved public schools to excite literacy and self-expression, and The Rainbow Troupe, an ensemble ranging in age from eight to forty plus, that is based in New York’s East Village. The Foundation’s “Brain Heart and Nerve” educational initiative is a sustainable education-through-the-arts project introducing children to the values of Musical Theater, emphasizing collaboration, positive self esteem and character building. With the ESC partnership, the foundation’s mission is expanded to college students, this time with professional-level workshops, study groups and internships for ESC students taught by artists from Broadway and the broader musical theater community.


SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in the state of New York and online. Its 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available at

Notable actors from Empire State College include Lisa Brescia ’08 (“Wicked,” “Aida,” Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Mamma Mia” and “Woman in White”), Alan Rachins ’74 (“Dharma and Greg,” Golden Globe and Emmy nominee for “L.A. Law”) and current student Lee Summers (“Dreamgirls” and TV’s “Blue Bloods”).