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Cablegate: Broadway in Riga - a Public Dilpomacy Smash!

VZCZCXRO0854
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRA #0371 1410434
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210434Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4027
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RIGA 000371

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: SCUL KPAO PREL LG
SUBJECT: BROADWAY IN RIGA - A PUBLIC DILPOMACY SMASH!

1. SUMMARY: BROADWAY COMPOSER AND LYRICIST STEPHEN SCHWARTZ VISITED
RIGA MAY 7-11, 2007, TO PROMOTE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATER AS A
UNIQUELY AMERICAN ART FORM. SCHWARTZ WAS ACCOMPANIED BY TONY AWARD
WINNING ACTRESS DEBBIE GRAVITTE AND BROADWAY PERFORMER SCOTT
COULTER, WHO TAUGHT A SERIES OF MASTER CLASSES TO LATVIAN ACTORS ON
THE TECHNIQUES OF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL. THE CULMINATION OF THEIR
VISIT WAS TWO CONCERTS OF SCHWARTZ'S GREATEST SONGS SUNG BY THE
GROUP OF VETERAN BROADWAY MUSICAL THEATER PERFORMERS. THE VISIT
ATTRACTED PRESS ATTENTION AND WAS A HUGE BOOST TO OUR PUBLIC
DIPLOMACY EFFORTS. END SUMMARY.

2. DURING THE WEEK OF MAY 7-11, 2007, RENOWNED BROADWAY COMPOSER AND
LYRICIST STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, TONY AWARD WINNING ACTRESS DEBBIE
GRAVITTE, AND BROADWAY PERFORMER SCOTT COULTER WERE IN RIGA TO
PROMOTE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATER AS A UNIQUELY AMERICAN ART FORM.
SCHWARTZ LED A SERIES OF MASTER CLASSES WITH LATVIAN MUSICAL THEATER
PERFORMERS DESIGNED TO TRAIN LATVIAN ACTORS IN THE TECHNIQUES OF
BROADWAY MUSICALS. ALTHOUGH MUSICALS ARE PRODUCED FREQUENTLY IN
LATVIA, THE COUNTRY DOES NOT HAVE AMERICAN-STYLE MUSICALS IN THE
THEATERS' REPERTOIRE. ONE OF THE MAIN BARRIERS FOR STAGING AMERICAN
MUSICALS IS THE LATVIAN ACTORS' INSUFFICIENT VOCAL AND DANCE SKILLS
NECESSARY TO PRODUCE THE LARGE BROADWAY STYLE MUSICALS. IN ADDITION,
LATVIAN THEATERS LACK THE DIRECTORS, CHOREOGRAPHERS AND PRODUCERS
NECESSARY TO STAGE AMERICAN MUSICALS.

3. SCHWARTZ, GRAVITTE, AND COULTER ALSO CONDUCTED A PANEL DISCUSSION
WITH PERFORMERS FROM SEVERAL LATVIAN THEATERS ABOUT THEIR
BACKGROUNDS, TRAINING, AND EXPERIENCES IN US MUSICAL THEATER.
LATVIAN THEATER STUDENTS WERE ABLE TO ASK THE AMERICAN ACTORS
QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THEY LEARNED THE ART OF PERFORMING IN MUSICAL
THEATER.

4. THE CULMINATION OF THE WEEK WAS TWO CONCERTS OF SCHWARTZ'S
GREATEST SONGS PERFORMED BY THE THREE VETERAN BROADWAY PERFORMERS
EACH WITH AN AUDIENCE OF 1000 PEOPLE. ONE CONCERT WAS ATTENDED BY
LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER AND SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT,
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, RIGA'S MAYOR AS WELL AS LATVIA'S CULTURAL AND
SOCIAL LEADERS. PRIOR TO THE CONCERTS AMBASSADOR CATHERINE TODD
BAILEY GAVE WELCOMING REMARKS WITH THE LATVIAN MINISTER OF CULTURE
THAT HIGHLIGHTED THE STRONG BILATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN LATVIA AND
THE US AND THE IMPORTANT ROLE CULTURAL EXCHANGES HAVE IN ENHANCING
BILATERAL RELATIONS.

5. THE PROJECT WAS INSPIRED BY AMBASSADOR BAILEY, AND THE AMBASSADOR
WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN MANAGING THE OUTREACH DURING SCHWARTZ'S VISIT.
AMBASSADOR BAILEY HOSTED A LUNCHEON IN HONOR OR MR. AND MRS.
SCHWARTZ IN THE LATVIAN NATIONAL OPERA THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER LEADERS
IN THE OPERA COMMUNITY TO DEVELOP THEIR AWARENESS OF US MUSICAL
THEATRE.

6. THE TRIP WAS ARRANGED BY THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS,
AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHERS (ASCAP), THE ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR
COLLECTING ROYALTIES FOR ON BEHALF OF ALL U.S. MUSICAL ARTISTS,
THROUGH THEIR THEATER EDUCATION PROGRAM. ASCAP FOUNDATION EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR KAREN SHERRY ALSO PARTICIPATED IN THE TRIP.

7. THE TRIP WAS EXTREMELY WELL RECEIVED, GARNERING LARGE PRESS AND
MEDIA ATTENTION IN ALL MEDIA FROM MAINSTREAM TV NEWS TO SOCIETY
FOCUSED TABLOIDS. LATVIANS ARE VERY PROUD OF THEIR CULTURE AND
BRINGING THIS UNIQUE ASPECT OF AMERICAN CULTURE, BROADWAY THEATRE,
TO RIGA GAVE MANY LATVIANS A PERSONAL SENSE OF THE STRENGTH OF OUR
BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. SCHWARTZ AND TEAM WERE GENUINELY IMPRESSED
WITH THE EXCEPTIONALLY WARM WELCOME THEY RECEIVED FROM THE LATVIAN
PEOPLE, AND THE VISIT WAS A HUGE EVENT IN OUR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
OUTREACH.

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