Palm Harbor performing arts teacher travels to New York to learn from Broadway’s finest

Lisa Nicole Cane, left, poses with Freddie and Myrna Gershon during her trip to New York on July 10-13 to participate in the 10th annual Freddie G Fellowship.

PALM HARBOR — Lisa Nicole Cane, a performing arts teacher from Palm Harbor, got a chance this summer to do something she’s never done.

Cane was one of eight lucky educators chosen from across the United States to travel to New York City to work one-on-one with some of Broadway’s greats.

“It was incredible to learn directly from some of the best in Broadway how to better serve my students and community,” she said.

Cane, who co-founded the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Academy with her mother, Sandra Faulkner, 11 years ago, received a Freddie G Award and an all-expense-paid trip to attend the 10th annual Freddie G Fellowship in New York on July 10-13. The award was given during the Junior Theater Festival, the largest children’s theater festival in the world held annually in Atlanta. Cane has attended the festival with her students for the past 10 years.

To win the Freddie G Award, teachers undergo a rigorous application process. Staff, community members and students write letters on their behalf.

“This award is given to teachers who demonstrate leadership in their community, furthering the arts and theater education through humanitarian efforts,” Cane said.

During their four days in New York, Cane and the other seven teachers attended private master classes with some of Broadway’s leading choreographers, directors, producers, actors and designers. They attended the Broadway hit “The Prom,” including a backstage tour, and observed a workshop performance of “Something Rotten JR.”

The teachers also received $5,000 from Freddie Gershon, co-chairman of Music Theatre International, and his wife, Myrna, to be used to better their schools’ theater programs. The Freddie G Fellowship is underwritten by the Gershons and MTI.

“These teachers perform inspiring work with limited resources,” Freddie said. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to live the Broadway experience and interact with qualified professionals to reward them for all they do to introduce the next generations to live theater and simultaneously enhance their knowledge, skills and experience.”

Cane, who also serves on the Pinellas County School Board, says the trip did exactly what Freddie G wanted it to do for her.

“Everyone we spoke with was so positive and supportive of us teachers, giving us that extra boost of confidence in our craft,” she said. “I came home so inspired by the amount of talent I witnessed, and I am forever humbled and grateful to have had this tremendous opportunity.”

Making a difference on the School Board

Cane, who is a mother of four, ran for a seat on the School Board in 2018 as part of her efforts to try to make the “world a better place one child at a time through my love for singing, music and dance.”

After successfully winning a spot on the board, she says she is already seeing “big gains for the local arts community,” as the board begins rolling out its new strategic plan.

“I am grateful every day for each opportunity to champion the arts as I believe they are essential to human development and creating the strongest interpersonal connections between people,” she said.

The arts certainly have played a big part in Cane’s life. She fell in love with music when she was very young and started performing publicly before she was 6 years old. At age 13, she and her sister, Debbie, created a nonprofit called Teens for Charitable Causes that gave local teen talent a “chance to use their gifts for the community good,” according to information at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Academy’s website, https://tbpaa.com.

She has directed more than 35 productions over the years and choreographed hundreds of numbers. She has worked with Tampa Bay Children’s Theater, Calvary Christian High School and taught preschool music.

She’s also known for her vocal ability, having signed her first recording contract at age 14. She has worked with and written songs with the some of the best in the business. Her music has been on iTunes since 2001.

She has performed for dignitaries and with country singers Lee Greenwood and Billy Ray Cyrus. Her self-produced album, “Merry Christmas with Love,” was considered for a Grammy in 2015.

She even spent 18 months featured on Maybelline Makeup’s website as their National Chick with Attitude.

Today, at age 32, she is a BMI songwriter and publisher, voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which bestows the Grammy awards, member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, creative director, teacher, School Board member, mother, and wife to Casey Cane, who she married in 2007. Casey is a Palm Harbor fire commissioner.

Even with all those achievements in her life, she still cherishes her recent trip to New York.

“The Freddie G Award has changed my life for the better and has in every way inspired me to become a better teacher and community leader,” she said. “I hope that I can bring all I have learned about my craft to Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Academy. I am so honored and especially grateful to my husband and four children who have been so supportive of me every step of the way.”

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.