For Frank Basile, the fact Discovering Broadway was able to secure the rights to the musical about South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela for its debut show can be summed up easily.
“I got two words, Joel Kirk,” Basile said.
Kirk is the founder and artistic director of Discovering Broadway, which will debut “Mandela” Feb. 14-15 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts. The actors will present the show with scripts in hand. Discovering Broadway is designed to give Indianapolis a first look at Broadway-bound musicals in development.
Basile, a longtime supporter of the arts, is the chair of the advisory board for Discovering Broadway.
“All the people that have gathered around him are the people that he recruited,” Basile said. “I’m blown away that somebody born and raised in Indiana could have put this together so quickly in bringing this all together.”
The chair of the executive board is Bruce Blumberg, the senior vice president of investments for Wells Fargo Advisors. Jill Zaniker, who manages the Jeff Zaniker Memorial Foundation for the Arts, is the secretary. David Owens, a corporate marketing analyst for Salesforce, is a board member at-large. Owens, who graduated from Carmel High School with Kirk in 2012, was a 2019 finalist on “The Voice.”
“Joel and I have been supporting each other in different endeavors,” Owens said. “In 2018, when Joel had this idea, we put our heads together on how we do it. Joel has all the drive and ambition to make sure it happens, and I just support him all the way.”
“Mandela” will start with two weeks of workshops. A free master class will be held for students from Asante Children’s Theatre. Owens said area artists will have the opportunity to audition to be in the pre-Broadway development process.
“We wanted to do something that was not only good for the organization, but good for our city,” Owens said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to see it and participate in it at the local level.”