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Equity is our race, culture, ethnicity, and identity blog. The blog focuses on coverage important to Illinois and its improvement. Evidence of performance of public policies and their impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of equity and diversity:Maureen Foertsch McKinney and Rachel Otwell curate this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.

Springfield Native Writes 'Miseducation' Musical On Inner City Violence & More

c/o Nattalyee Randall
actor, singer & writer Nattalyee Randall

One area performer has gone on to live in NYC and write a musical she says she wants to see on Broadway. 

"My hopes for 'Miseducation' are to go to Broadway. You gotta dream big to be big." Randall

Through her primary and high school education and college, Nattalyee Randall was active in the Springfield theater scene. I was lucky enough to be in a Springfield Theatre Center production with her myself when we were both much younger. She is as much a positive force as she is talented.

If Nattalyee was around and there was a solo in a song to be had, there was virtually no question who it was going to. She has delighted many audiences with her booming, soulful and expressive voice in productions like the Muni's Dreamgirls, and she's now part of a national touring acapella group called Vocalosity. She also serves as a substitute teacher in New York City. That's where she found inspiration to write the musical Miseducation. It centers on a group of high schoolers from Chicago and a substitute teacher who unexpectedly helps change their lives. "I don't try and sugar coat anything, a lot of times you get these fluffy stories of ,'Oh these kids had bad lives but they rose above it.' But honestly, as (I've seen) being an educator in the New York school system, a lot of times kids don't rise above it ... and if we don't see that we won't know how to fix it," says Randall. The musical doesn't shy away from issues like violence, drugs, even prostitution.

Randall says there are many reasons why she feels this story will be best told through theater, including that, "There are not many African American musical theater composers to begin with, let alone female African American theater composers. There's not been an African American female who has won a Tony for the best book, or best lyrics and music ... I'm just hoping I can change that."

Listen to the interview with Randall here:

You can keep up to date with Randall's work by checking out her website, where you will also find ways to follow her on various social media platforms.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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