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Musical depicts public school challenges

Your struggles, on stage
New York Teacher
Miller Photography
Hedge-funders with grasping fingers sing of their evil designs.
Miller Photography
Lucena set up his percussion instruments under Banks’ watchful eye.

The toe-tapping musical “Teach It Right, or, Right to Teach!” toured the parks and playgrounds of the city this summer, presenting its story of the challenges and struggles facing public education through the ordeals of a teacher and a middle school student. The Theater for the New City’s award-winning Street Theater Company attracts neighboring residents and passersby to its story of students deprived of art, music and after-school programs, their futures endangered by teaching to the tests and lack of resources. Despite the story’s serious themes, it’s acted and sung with the boisterous spirit of a Broadway musical. Maniacal hedge-fund executives in tuxedos and with foot-long, grasping fingers sing of their support for charter schools and “the politicians in our pockets.” The compelling score was composed and arranged by music teacher Joseph Banks of PS/MS 194 in the Bronx, while retired music teacher Nelson Lucena played the drums in the accompanying quintet and music teacher Michael Vasquez of PS 228 in Queens served as a consultant. Lucena said the Street Theater Company’s mission is to engage city communities in current social, political and economic issues. “It also provides an afternoon of professional entertainment free to New Yorkers,” he said.