Sunday, July 20, 2014

Raleigh Little Theatre and Fiddler on the Roof

Ever since we went to our first kid-friendly show when my kids were in preschool, our family has loved the Raleigh Little Theatre. This is a community theatre in the heart of Raleigh, where it seems like there is stuff going on all the time. They have two theaters, the larger theatre (the Cantey V. Sutton) is your typical set-up for the larger productions, which can be anything from Hairspray to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I love the Gaddy Goodwin theatre though. It's smaller and more intimate and the shows done in this setting are frequently more like Shakespeare's theatre in the round. The audience sits on three sides of the stage and actors enter and exit from all directions.

Many of the kid-friendly shows are done in this smaller theatre and, even better, the actors come out in the end so the kids can talk to them and ask them questions and get autographs if they so desire. The Gaddy is the teaching theatre, which means it is there to educate both those who come to watch the shows and those that find themselves in the shows.The pricing for the shows is always reasonable.

What makes it extra special is that we can frequently go and see people we know in the productions. There is a strong and usually very good set of classes offered each year for all age ranges. My kids have taken part in a number of these classes over the years and almost always had a great time. 

I drive the extra distance to this resource because I believe it is the best in the area. Several towns nearer to us have theatre programs aimed at young kids, but I've yet to be convinced that any of them have the same level of experienced teachers and resources that RLT does. In fact, RLT will be celebrating 25 years of teaching at the Gaddy next Saturday. RLT, itself, has been around since 1936.

Theatre isn't for everyone, but I do believe it has a lot to offer kids of a wide range of talents and interests. Here is a short list of benefits:

1. Public speaking. Everyone should learn how to stand up in front of others and get a point across. It's a very valuable and essential skill in life whether you are going into business, want to be a teacher, or want to be an advocate for any sort of idea. 
2. Personal confidence. I can tell you that I was the most shy and inhibited of teenagers, but when I found that I could get up in front of people and speak, it helped me to find my own personal voice. It helped me to overcome my personal fears and grow as a person. I found that I really did have something to say.
3. Imagination. Acting can be almost an outgrowth of imaginary play. In fact, many of the games the younger kids do in classes have to do with make-believe and pretending they are in various situations.
4. Learning compassion. Having compassion for others stems in large part from trying to understand others and putting yourself in their shoes. Acting can help to stretch those muscles. Not only do you become more in tune with your own body and expressions, but you spend time thinking about where others are coming from. What motivates the character? How would you feel if your were in their place? 
5. Working as a team. Some kids are just not sports oriented and so finding a team situation may be a bit more difficult. If you are in a play, either on stage or backstage, you are part of a team. As part of a team, you have to consider the needs and feelings of others, and of course, you have to do your job, because everyone else is counting on you.
6. Other life skills. Many kids start out acting and find they love back stage work better. All kinds of skills can be incorporated here. Carpentry in set design, painting, researching and sewing costumes, make up, choreography and dance, musical accompaniment and training, the technical aspects of lighting and sound, and management in the form of stage managers, directors, and prop masters. 

My daughter will be in her first serious production here this week. She auditioned for and got in to the Teens on Stage production of Fiddler on the Roof. She has a small role, but I want to let people know about this, not just because the show is going to be FABULOUS, but because if you have a teen interested in theatre, this is the best summer camp I can think of. Once accepted into the program, teens from 13-17 are at the theatre for a series of classes and rehearsals for a solid month, all day, five days a week. To be fair, auditions are quite intimidating and the competition can be tough. But for someone really interested, what better way to learn about theatre than to do an actual production? Even better, they have access to top notch choreographers, musical directors, costume designers, and a truly fabulous director, who is not only tough and no-nonsense, but also kind and fair and really, really good at what she does. 

If you are in town and would like a show to take the kids to, I highly recommend coming to see these teens this weekend or the next. I can vouch for the tremendous talent of these kids. If nothing else, a show like this can be very inspiring and a good time.

Here is what Carolina Parent had to say about it and the anniversary bash:

Raleigh Little Theatre Presents Fiddler on the Roof, a Performance by Teens
You can also catch another student performance when Raleigh Little Theatre’s Teens On Stage/Teens Backstage presents the classic musical, Fiddler On The Roof July 25-Aug. 3 in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. This is the 30th production in the history of the Teens on Stage/Teens Backstage Program, a five-week conservatory and training program that involves teens in all aspects of production. This summer is also the 25th anniversary of the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. RLT will celebrate with a birthday party, “Happy Birthday Gaddy-Goodwin,” on Saturday, Aug. 9, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The event will include entertainment for adults and children, including storytelling, a visit from the Scrap Exchange, and excerpts of past performances in the space. Reserve at this link for more detailed information. Tickets for all events can be purchased by calling the Raleigh Little Theatre box office at 919-821-3111, Monday through Friday, noon-5 p.m., or by visiting the theatre’s website at above right of Raleigh Little Theatre's Teens On Stage/Teens Backstage presentation of Fiddler on the Roof courtesy of Curtis Brown) - See more at:

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