Laura Benanti and HBO Max will give high school students from around the chance to perform in a pandemic-proof musical with the newly announced special "Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020."
Inspired by Benanti's #SunshineSongs social media campaign, the scripted special will star students whose school productions were shut down by COVID-19, and will feature original music performed from their homes.
Per HBO Max, "Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020" will "explore tried-and-true themes of classic teen movies through the totally unique lens of a world turned upside down by the global pandemic." The cast will play a group of seniors from the same high school, and while the pandemic may have shut down their school, the drama and romantic intrigue live on.
The L.A.-based recording artist Leland will write and produce the original songs and score for the project, which is produced by "RuPaul's Drag Race" producers World of Wonder. Randy Barbato, Fenton Bailey and Tom Campbell will serve as executive producers alongside Benanti.
"As a mom of teenagers, I know that this time has been a struggle for them. High School seniors, in particular, have been hit hard by this pandemic, their dreams of homecoming, prom, spring performances and even graduation being canceled," said Jennifer O'Connell, executive vice president original non-fiction and kids programming. "Laura's brilliant idea to give these kids an audience and a platform has blossomed into this unique opportunity for us to not only celebrate their talent, but to entertain many other families across the country sharing their experience."
"Our school shows are more than just entertainment. At the very least, they bring our communities together to revel in the talent of our young artists. At their best, they are a life changing experience that these kids will bring with them into the rest of their lives," said Benanti. "I am thrilled that the #SunshineSongs initiative has put the spotlight on so many incredible young performers; grateful to World of Wonder for its grand vision and to HBO MAX for providing a global platform on which America's youth can shine!"