Applications available for The Young Americans workshop in Niles

Published 1:03 pm Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Young Americans are coming to Niles in November. Performances will be Nov. 9 and 10. (Photo submitted)

The Young Americans are coming to Niles in November. Performances will be Nov. 9 and 10. (Photo submitted)

Before seeing young people singing and dancing was something that made for prime time television, like the wildly popular series “Glee,” The Young Americans, an organization started in 1962, were putting young, talented individuals on stage with some of the greats like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin and Julie Andrews.

As director and Niles native Bill Brawley said, The Young Americans are “the granddaddies of ‘Glee.'”

Since its beginnings, The Young Americans have given countless young people the opportunity to develop talents in music and dance and the confidence to forge ahead with their futures.

The organization operates an outreach program, which puts its participants in high schools all across the country for workshops and performances.

And they’re coming back to Niles.

Niles High School assistant principal Molly Brawley and retired Howard Elementary School principal Barb Garrard are once again welcoming The Young Americans to Niles in November.

“We’re taking third-graders through 12th grade,” Garrard said. Students from neighboring districts can participate in a workshop being held by The Young Americans. The workshop, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 8 and part of Tuesday, Nov. 9, Garrard said, will be followed by two special performances Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s become so popular,” she said, what had originally been one performance doubled — and performances often sell out.

“It’s just absolutely amazing what these kids teach our kids to do,” Garrard said. “It’s absolutely amazing.”

Brawley said the organization began its outreach program when music programs in schools across the country were “being taken out of schools.”

The Young Americans thought they could “go to the schools where we could help, you know, like be the Pied Piper,” Brawley said. “I think it just inspires the kids and inspires the community about what a great thing music is and what it does for people.”

What it does, Brawley said, is serve as “a vehicle” to develop self-confidence in kids and teaches various concepts such as goal setting and achieving and teamwork.

And Brawley is speaking from experience. He got involved with the organization in 1973 and two years later performed on television with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Brawley will bring “a cast of actually 50 young people who are the educators and they teach a show that’s an hour long in length to the kids in the community.

“It’s every musical style you could think of, it’s classical and hip-hop and jazz and rock ‘n’ roll and musicals,” he said. “This is a new tour that runs for the next three years in American and it’s an all-new show, so it’s all new concepts.”

Brawley said as part of the scheduled performance students will “actually draw on stage to live music.”

The performance and workshop will be held at Niles High School. Performances will be Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the high school starting Monday, Nov. 8, $8 for adults and $5 for students.

The cost to participate is $47. Garrard said there are scholarships available for students.

“We’ve never turned anybody away,” she said.

Applications area available at any Niles area school.

For more information on The Young Americans, visit