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Thursday, September 28, 2017

GSP’s Anti-Junk Food Comedy set to play in Houston

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L to R) Katie Lugo, Danté Anderson, Colleen Foose and Mason Butler

New Brunswick, N.J. — George Street Playhouse’s Educational Touring Theatre, courtesy of a grant from Novo Nordisk, is bringing its musical comedy Austin the Unstoppable to the Houston Independent School District and faith-based organizations in Houston this fall. Austin the Unstoppable in Houston is supported by a grant from Novo Nordisk, a global leader in diabetes care.

Austin the Unstoppable is the story of an 11-year-old gamer and junk food junkie who faces the long-term consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle when he learns his mother has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The musical comedy explores the challenges of one family learning how to make healthy choices together in a fun, upbeat way that engages students in the benefits of healthy diet and exercise by celebrating how positive change can occur through the power of love, hard work and support. The production is appropriate for grades 3-8.

“George Street Playhouse is thrilled to bring Austin the Unstoppable to Houston to help raise the issue of public health and healthy lifestyles on community agendas, said Jim Jack, GSP’s Director of Education and Outreach. Austin the Unstoppable is aligned with Novo Nordisk’s mission to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity in local communities.”

Forty of the performances will be at schools in the Houston Independent School District, with 10 others staged at faith-based and community organizations. The final performance of the tour will be held at Helms Elementary School, which was attended by cast member Danté Anderson.

“By collaborating with local stakeholders, we’ve been able to help drive lifestyle changes and promote healthier choices, and Austin the Unstoppable is another way we can positively affect communities,” said Diana Blankman, senior director, U.S. Corporate Giving & Social Impact at Novo Nordisk. “We’ve been committed to the city of Houston through our Cities Changing Diabetes program and “Austin” compliments the work already being done there.”

Launched in Houston in 2014, Cities Changing Diabetes is a global program developed by Novo Nordisk in partnership with the University College of London and the Steno Diabetes Center to understand the social and cultural factors behind vulnerability to diabetes in urban settings and reduce its severity in cities. Houston is one of eight cities worldwide that is part of the program. UT Health School of Public Health and the Houston Health Department serve as local academic and stakeholder engagement leads, respectively.

There are 2.1 million people living in Houston and 4.3 million in Harris County. Approximately one in 10 adults in Houston/Harris County have diabetes. Obesity is the most common chronic condition in Houston, affecting 32 percent of adults. Obese men and obese women have a 7- and 12-fold risk, respectively, of developing diabetes.

By 2040, the number of people worldwide with diabetes is expected to rise to 642 million, with 74 percent of them living in urban areas.

For more information and to book Austin the Unstoppable for a performance at a school or organization, please visit georgestreetplayhouse.org/austininhouston or call 732-846-2895, extension 117.

About GSP’s Educational Touring Theatre
George Street Playhouse’s Educational Touring Theatre is the centerpiece of the New Brunswick, N.J.-based theatre’s educational programming. The program commissions and produces first-class productions with relevant themes for young audiences, such as respect, conflict resolution, and health and wellness. Each play is followed by a post-play discussion providing excellent starting points for engaging classroom conversations that can be used to fulfill New Jersey Common Core State Standards. The Touring Theatre visits hundreds of schools in the tri-state area and beyond, and are seen by more than 35,000 students annually. For the 2017-18 season, the Touring Theatre will present two plays. Austin the Unstoppable, is a musical comedy about an 11-year-old video gamer and junk food junkie who must face the long-term consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle when he learns his mother has been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. The other play, New Kid remains the Touring Theatre's most successful program, addressing racism, prejudice, peer pressure, and conflict resolution. New Kid also asks students to explore issues of: moving to a new place, being the outsider, making and keeping friends. Visit gsponline.org/tour for more information, or contact GSP’s Education Department via email at education@georgestplayhouse.org, or via phone at 732-846-2895, extension 117.

About George Street Playhouse

Founded in 1974, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theatre, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists. The Playhouse will stage its 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons at 103 College Farm Road in New Brunswick, N.J., before taking residence in a new, downtown performing arts center for the 2019-20 season. Its leadership consists of Artistic Director David Saint and Managing Director Kelly Ryman. Through the years, the Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway, including the Outer Critics’ Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger; the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill; and the Broadway hit and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at GSP during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays. Gettin' the Band Back Together, which premiered at George Street Playhouse in 2013, is headed to Broadway in summer 2018. Last season’s Curvy Widow is currently running off-Broadway. In 2015, George Street Playhouse was represented on Broadway by It Shoulda Been You, and off-Broadway by Joe DiPietro’s Clever Little Lies, both of which premiered at the Playhouse. In addition to its mainstage season, GSP’s Touring Educational Theatre features issue-oriented productions that are seen by more than 35,000 students annually. George Street Playhouse programming is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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