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Children's theater

Developing the adult performers of tomorrow

Tacoma Little Theatre’s children’s production of Peter Pan, Jr., summer 2017. Photo courtesy Tacoma Little Theatre

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Our children are the future of theater in the South Sound region. The child you see on stage in a TMP Family Theater show or in an Olympia Family Theater Playtime show might very well be the adult performer you thrill to in a mainstage production at any area theater just a few years from now.

Nearly all area theater companies have children's theater camps and workshops where kids get to learn acting and stagecraft from adult professionals and where they have opportunities to discover what it is like to perform on stage in front of a live audience.

Sue Snyder at Tacoma Musical Playhouse says, "Theater for young audiences is one of the fastest growing forms of theater today. We have found with the growth of our Family Theater program at TMP that Puget Sound area audiences are hungry for this type of work. We see many people drive great distances to see our TMP Family Theater shows. Both our education and Family Theater programming has grown within the past several years. With the decline of so many theater programs in schools, we can serve children who do not have opportunities to get involved in theater through school. We also reach the homeschool audience. We are able to serve as a complement to schools who still do have arts programs by providing programming during their off time from school. We are seeing many of our students go on to play significant roles in our Mainstage productions as well as going onto the 5th Avenue and other professional theaters. Our educational program helps kids build their self-esteem and confidence, interpersonal skills, creativity, responsibility and creates life-long friendships."

Upcoming TMP Family Theater productions include Elephant & Piggie's "We Are in A Play" Jan. 13-21. TMP describes the play as a heartwarming musical from the pages of Mo Willems' award-winning and best-selling children's books.

In February, they will present Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical.

TMP also has a large number of children's camps and workshops ranging from weeklong to monthlong and for a range of ages. Information on all camps and workshops is available online at tmp.org.

Olympia Family Theater is all about children. The number and variety of shows and programs they offer is mind-boggling. Their "Let's Play" daytime shows are 25-minute interactive shows for toddlers and preschoolers, all adapted by Kate Ayers, directed by Hannah Eklund and performed by local actors. In January, it will be Just So Stories, and in February it will be The Three Little Pigs. They also offer a large number of camps and workshops for kids of all ages, plus a year-round schedule of mainstage shows for children and adults featuring local professional actors. For complete information, schedules and prices, go to: olyft.org.

Lakewood Playhouse's Lakewood Institute of Theatre offers camps and classes year-round. Coming up are: Singin' In the Rain, Disney's Aristocats, Preparing the Actor, Puss N Boots (Early Stars), and Preparing the Singer. For more information, visit lakewoodinstituteoftheatre.org.

Tacoma Little Theatre's winter programs for children starts in February with Jack and the Beanstalk for junior actors, ages 4-6. Rehearsals will be Feb. 6 to March 7, with a performance March 17. For more information on this and other TLT education programs, go to tacomalittletheatre.com/blog/2016/wintereducation2018.

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