Theatre can be an amazing experience that will help your child learn and develop both theatre skills AND important life skills. However, it's also a lot of work, and it requires patience and prioritizing.
To start, you'll have to sign your child up, and complete all of the registration paperwork. Then, submit the paperwork along with your tuition payment.
Next, your child will have to AUDITION. We typically cast every student who auditions, but the audition process is still a necessary one. If your child has the confidence to audition, then performing won't be a problem for them. We also need the audition process because it helps us figure out who we would like to play each role. The audition process can be a little intimidating if kids don't know what to expect, or if they go in picturing an experience like America's Got Talent where they have to get up on stage in front of hundreds of people. In reality, our audition process is a very comfortable experience where a small group (up to 10) kids is coached through a series of fun games and icebreakers, gets taught a short dance routine, and then each one sings a short song. Most kids handle it just fine. They just need a little gentle encouragement to try it. Once they get in there and start playing the games, they're usually fine.
A few days after auditions, we will usually send out a cast list, telling everybody what role they have been assigned in the production. Some people get the roles they were hoping for, but many don't. We realize this, and some disappointment is expected. However, we work extremely hard to make sure that we have a great plan for your child's involvement in the show. They may not play the lead character, but that doesn't mean they weren't talented enough for it. Casting is a complicated process, and we always make sure that the final cast works out in a way that will ultimately be a great experience for everyone. Occasionally we have a student who is very talented but just doesn't "fit" any of the main roles for whatever reason. In cases like this, we try to make they at least get some sort of cameo or featured moment that will showcase their skills. We also try to keep that student in mind when choosing our next show.
Once the cast list goes out, there are no refunds issued, and no changes can be made to your conflict calendar. We cast the show in part based on when your child can be at rehearsal, and if that availability changes, it can really throw off the rehearsal process, not just for your child, but also for the characters they interact with on stage.
In the first week, we will take headshot photos of each cast member for our program, and final revisions to your student's bio can still be made. After that, the program will get finalized and be ready to print.
There are a few things your child will need for performances which you will have to buy on your own, assuming you don't already have them. We recommend getting these early, so you don't have to do rush shopping at the last minute. Please know that we may not know until late in the process what shoes your child will need, or what their hair/makeup will look like. In general, if your child needs something not on our list, we will try to get it ourselves. However, if that's not possible or practical, we may ask you to buy it and keep the receipt so we can reimburse you.
The first couple weeks of rehearsal are super fun. We spend most of our time setting a firm foundation for our rehearsals. This involves playing lots of games, which utilize kids' natural playful instincts to help them learn important theatre skills. We also read through the script and work on same character things.
One big reason we don't dive right into staging and choreography is that we want your child to memorize their songs and speaking lines BEFORE they learn the movement. It's really hard to focus on acting or dancing while reading from a book. So please help us out by gently making sure that your child is working on memorization in between rehearsals. This process can be helped greatly by a relative or friend, who can encourage them, and hold the script and feed them short bits of their lines when they get stuck.
The final four to eight weeks we spend working on staging, choreography, acting, etc. We will usually start out by teaching the bare minimum the cast needs to know to get through the whole show, and then we'll go back as we have time and add bits and pieces to fill it out and make it extra awesome.
It's very important that we don't have to teach things twice. Students need to write down whatever notes they need, and do whatever practice or mental reviewing at home, so they can come in to the next rehearsal for that scene, even if it's two weeks later, and pick it right back up with minimal problems. It gets hard to build a great show if we're trying to move forward and add new stuff, but have to keep stopping and spending large amounts of time reteaching the things we learned last time. This is a great opportunity for your child to develop their initiative and self-discipline. If they don't want it, they probably won't do it. We try to make it enjoyable so they will have fun practicing at home. But they still have to make that choice to practice.
As we get into the final couple weeks of rehearsal, everything kicks into a much higher gear. Suddenly, you still start receiving a lot more emails, your child may get more stressed, and volunteer work will get more and more important. This builds and builds until LOAD-IN, when we move all of the sets and costumes and props and technical equipment and everything else over to the theatre. We only have one day to get everything moved in and 100% ready for rehearsals and performances, so we really need to be on top of things, and we need as much help as can possibly get.
After load-in, TECH WEEK begins. Tech week always starts out with lots of things going wrong, plans getting constantly changed, and it generally looks like a jumbled mess. Very few organizations look impressive during load-in and tech week. This is the period when we discover all of the problems, and we fix them little by little. By the end of the week, things come together nicely, and then on opening night it all magically works out. Call it theatre magic, call it providence, but somehow it always works out. The trick is to stay patient and forgiving through tech week, so that you aren't burned out by the time performances roll around. Tech week is easily the hardest week of the production for everybody involved, but it also becomes one of the best. Working together to overcome such tremendous odds has a way of bringing people together. You'll see the best of people, as well as the worst in people. If we stick together, we'll come out of it a family.
To succeed in tech week, we suggest completing all required elements EARLY. This includes the registration process, buying the required items, getting your headshot and bio done, etc, etc. It also helps if we get lots of volunteer help right from the beginning and through the entire rehearsal process. This makes tech week waaaaay easier.
Our last suggestion: if you can take a vacation week from work or school during tech week, DO IT. At the very least, try to get school/work assignments early, so you only have to do the basics during tech week. You don't want to be working on a huge project or cramming for a test during tech week. We don't say that lightly. Tech week really takes an enormous amount of energy and adrenaline.
Expect to help out as a volunteer at all performances. We'll do our best to make sure you can do a front of house job at least once, so you can watch the show.
If not volunteering during a performance, you'll need to buy a ticket if you want to watch the show.
Expect to help out with LOAD-OUT (STRIKE) until it is completely finished. The directors put in more work than anybody else throughout the entire rehearsal process, and there is nothing worse for a director than having to spend an extra two hours alone at the theatre cleaning up after everybody else has gone home. Directors want to go home and sleep too.
After that, expect to sleep a LOT. Your child may have trouble getting up bright and early for school on Monday.
Hopefully, this experience will have been a wonderful one for you. If you know what to expect going into it, and if you are a positive, enthusiastic, and responsible participant, it WILL be a fabulous experience and you will love it.
Thank you in advance! We're sure we will enjoy working with you.