CenterStage Academy – Where Kids Can Shine; And Acting Out, Too!

DSC_0133CenterStage Academy just finished its big production of Seussical, Jr., and the program was a huge success.

The class, which trains children to perform in a musical production, then finishes with a show, went swimmingly, said Frank Goodloe III, a co-director of the program. He and Jordan Price rehearsed with the children every Thursday for two hours and Sunday for two and a half hours. In rehearsal, they taught the kids the show, as well as singing, dancing and acting.

“We teach the kids to work as a team,” Goodloe said. “We teach them how to dance and how to put dance steps to a song, how to use a microphone. We teach them everything you would need to know to be in a stage production.”
This year there were 36 children in the program, up from 16 last year. “It was great,” Goodloe said. “The kids got into it and enjoyed what they did.”

The biggest challenge was getting kids to let go and use their imaginations, he said. “They would say, ‘People don’t live on a speck (from Horton Hears a Who)!’ So you have to get them to think: If you lived on a speck, how would you talk? How would you use sound?”

Kristen Heckel’s daughter Audrey Heckel, 8, has been in the CenterStage Academy junior productions for two years and this will be her third year in camp. In Seussical, she played a Bird Girl.

“She absolutely loves it,” Heckel said of her daughter. “I don’t think we could find a better program. Frank and Jordan are so great with them.”

Audrey has always wanted to be in theater productions, Kristen Heckel said. “She’s just one of those kids who enjoys writing, singing, reading and dancing.”

CenterStage Academy stands out among other youth theater programs, she said.

“There are other places that will get your child on stage, but here they teach so much more about the craft of acting, and there’s so much behind it,” Heckel continued. “It gives her so much self-confidence and discipline. That’s hard to find in youth programs.”

Next year CenterStage Academy will do Shrek, Jr. for the 8-17 year-olds, and Winnie the Pooh Kids for the 4-7 year-olds.

Maya Gray, 8, is already ready to sign up next year, said her mother, Amy Gray. “She’s actually sad it’s over now,” Gray said. “We loved it. We thought it was such a great experience for her, and she always had a smile on her face when we picked her up from practice.”

Maya, who played Thing 2 in Seussical, had always been a little performer, Amy Gray said, and she likely got it from her dad, Brian Gray, who is a musician in the local band the Hot Wires. Maya has always “hijacked family parties” to sing and dance for everyone, making up her own choreography. Last year, the Grays took Maya to see The Little Mermaid, which CenterStage Academy performed. Maya told her parents, “I want to do that!” and she kept bringing it up over and over, so they couldn’t say no. Gray said she believes that Maya’s younger sister Lucy will want to join, too.

“I would encourage any parent who has a child interested in theater to definitely get involved with this program,” Gray said. “Any kid who is geared toward performance would love it.”

Acting Out

CenterStage’s touring youth theater program Acting Out has done 30 shows in local elementary schools since January with its show, How I Became a Pirate.

“The kids love the show,” Goodloe said. “It’s been really great. We have gotten a good response from the schools.”

The shows are about an hour long, with a question and answer session at the end. Most kids ask questions like, how long have you been an actor? How do you learn your lines? How do you come up with the costume? Of course, with smaller children they ask things like, How did you become the captain? And, Goodloe added, they ask him, “How did you get so tall?” “Because I’m 6-foot-5. I just said I ate all my vegetables and drank all my milk. You really have to be on your toes with these kids!”

Next year, Acting Out will do And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank for middle and high schools, and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig for elementary schools.


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