The second-floor lobby of the Shubert Theatre on Saturday took on the trappings of an art studio, enlivened by scores of children absorbed in rock painting in the company of their parents.

The event was one of the two “Kindness Rock Painting” sessions the theatre has held so far as part of its larger Beautiful Kindness Project, which is designed to build anticipation for the premiere of the Broadway musical “Beautiful” at the Shubert next March. Participants were invited to paint and write kind words on rocks, which will be used to decorate three community gardens in New Haven.

“Smile,” “hope,” “peace,” “be nice,” “have patience,” “you rock” and “turn mirrors into windows” were among the phrases attendees wrote on the rocks, surrounding them with images of sunshine and flowers.

Kelly Wuzzardo, director of education and outreach initiatives at the Shubert, said she took inspiration for the project from the musical’s title song, which extols kindness. Then she pitched the idea to the New Haven Land Trust, which owns the community gardens.

While some participants came to the Shubert to participate in the rock painting, others simply noticed the activity while on one of the theater’s monthly tours. Wuzzardo noted that the session was planned to coincide with this month’s tour in order to draw a larger attendance. The other session took place on Oct. 29, during the theater’s annual open house and drew an even more impressive crowd, Wuzzardo said.

“We finished two buckets full of rocks that day,” she said.

Roughly 40 people came to the session on Saturday. The theatre provided the cards and paint supplies, while the rocks were donated by the L. Suzio York Hill Companies.

Several student volunteers from the nearby Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School helped out at the event. As specialized art students, they applied their artistic talents to assist participants in drawing more intricate images on their stones.

Imani Wilborne, one of the art students, said she enjoyed using her artistic knowledge to help the children at the event.

“I can get community services hours as well,” she said, “but [I come here] mostly because this is fun.”

Her work did not go unappreciated. Ashley Maximilien, one of the parents, said her children were excited by the pictures the art students helped them to draw.

In February the theater will ask people to share their random acts of kindness on social media to enter a lottery to win tickets for the “Beautiful” musical. The goal of the larger project is to extend the theme of “kindness” from the musical itself to more sustained efforts throughout the year, Wuzzardo said.

The three gardens set to be decorated with kindness rocks are the Fair Haven Library Garden, the Truman Street Community Garden and the Winchester Community Garden.

Malcolm Tang |