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'Smash' puts spotlight on East Rockaway students

East Rockaway High School students deliver their first

East Rockaway High School students deliver their first performance on their new stage, which was rebuilt this month through "NBC's 'Smash': Make a Musical constructed by Lowe's" program after superstorm Sandy destroyed the school's auditorium. (Feb. 16, 2013) Credit: Heidi Gutman

East Rockaway High School had to cancel its spring musical after its theater was destroyed by superstorm Sandy. The stage, theater seating, curtains, props and flats were all ruined as the school was hit with a total of $10 million in damage.

Things have since taken a big leap ahead for the better. Thanks to an initiative to rebuild school theaters across the country, East Rockaway’s theater has not only been restored to its former glory, but tonight students from the school will be featured in the first of three 30-second spots promoting “‘Smash’: Make a Musical constructed by Lowe’s” -- the program that rebuilt the school’s theater earlier this month. The spots will run during commercial breaks of the show.

“This isn’t just an auditorium; this is the heart of our school community,” said East Rockaway Superintendent Dr. Roseanne Melucci. “This is the stage our school community uses for public meetings, celebrations of student success and town halls. This is the stage where our students’ grandparents, mothers and fathers stood on to graduate from this school.”

In addition to showcasing the new stage, the promo puts the spotlight on East Rockaway students singing a “Seussical the Musical” song. The students performed the number for “Smash” cast member Jeremy Jordan when he visited the school on Feb. 16.

From now until March 6, schools across the country can also apply at to receive funds to upgrade their theatres through the Smash-Lowes program. Thirty finalists will be named on March 12, and communities will compete to receive the most online votes before April 10. The top five winners will each receive a gift card from Lowe’s to help renovate their theater.

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