One step closer to a dream.

Jade Gantt said she wants to act on Broadway some day. And the vocal major at the Cleveland School for the Arts is already making strides in that direction–this weekend, the 11th grader stars as Vanessa in the all-city musical production of “In The Heights” at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

This is the first all-city musical Cleveland Metropolitan School District has staged since before the pandemic started. For Gantt and most other students involved, it is the first district-wide show they have been a part of. 

“Getting to experience new things, and meeting new people from other schools in this kind of environment is really exciting to me,” Gantt said.

Jade Gantt playing Vanessa in CMSD's production of In the Heights
Jade Gantt playing Vanessa in CMSD’s production of “In the Heights”. Credit: Paul Rochford / Signal Cleveland

CMSD’s All City Arts, which runs an afterschool and weekend arts program during the school year, puts the musical together. The program is one of the oldest in the district’s Department of Arts Education, and the all-city musical is one of the biggest events the program produces every year.

Jeffrey Allen, the director of Arts Education for CMSD, said the pandemic shut down, and the district’s slow return to usual programming, made it a challenge to bring back the musical. Auditions for this year’s production didn’t even happen until January, when normally, they happen in November, he said.

“[That] makes what this team has done all the more remarkable in that in half the time they are used to, they have reached for the stars and gone above and beyond,” Allen said.

Setbacks aside, the staff and students involved put together a production that showcases incredible student talent on stage. The show also demonstrates the quality arts programming CMSD has to offer, Allen told Signal Cleveland.

The show is open to the public this weekend, running Friday April 14th through Sunday April 16. You can purchase tickets at $15 each via Playhouse Square.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.