The Hippo


May 26, 2020








The Majestic Theatre’s recent youth production of Aladdin Jr. Photo credit Stephanie Pappas Photography.

 Kids community theater 

• Bedford Youth Performing Company (155 Route 101, Bedford, 472-3894, has several productions a year for kids in grades 1 through 12. The next one is Peter Pan Jr., opening April 13. Audition dates are TBA.
• Community Players of Concord Children’s Theatre Project (Concord, 753-6653, is for kids ages 8 to 17, puts on one production every fall. 
• Kid’s Coop Theatre (Londonderry, 437-0505, has productions every other month for kids ages 8 to 18. The next one is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Audition dates TBA. Membership required to participate. 
• The Majestic Theatre (880 Page St., Manchester, 669-7469, has up to 10 youth shows a year for ages 7 to 15 and adult shows open to ages 15 and up. The next is Are We There Yet? opening Feb. 2. Audition dates TBA. 
• NH Theatre Factory Stage Setters Youth Program (Londonderry, 635-4445, is open to kids ages 8 to 19. The next production is TBA. 
• Palace Theatre Youth Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588, is open to kids ages 8 to 18 and puts on six to 10 productions a year. The next one is High School Musical Jr., opening Feb. 7. Audition dates are TBA. 
• Peacock Players (14 Court St., Nashua, 889-2330, has productions almost every month, open to various age groups. The next one is Hairspray opening May 11, which is open to kids ages 12 and up and adults. Auditions are on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. 
• The Riverbend Youth Company at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts (56 Mont Vernon St., Milford, 672-1002, has regular productions open to various age groups. Upcoming productions include The Tempest and 42nd Street. Audition dates are TBA. 
• Teen Actorsingers (219 Lake St., Nashua, 889-9691, puts on a spring and summer production for ages 13 to 19. 

Setting the stage
How kids can get involved in community theater

By Angie Sykeny

 Aspiring young actors who want to take their talents beyond school productions have plenty of opportunities to do so in southern New Hampshire, with kid-centric community theater programs and productions that feature both adults and children. 

A. Robert Dionne, artistic director for The Majestic Theatre in Manchester, said there’s a big difference between school and community theater productions. School productions typically have a large cast and assign parts to every kid who wants to participate. The sheer number of kids and the other extracurricular commitments that many kids have often mean frequent rehearsals and rehearsal periods that go on for months. Community theater, however, is smaller and more selective, gives the actors more individualized attention and has more focused rehearsals, usually held a few times a week for around four to eight weeks. 
“It’s good for kids who are looking for theater opportunities where they aren’t going to be one of a hundred kids, because not all kids who audition make it,” Dionne said, “and what happens is, you tend to be with a group of kids who really want to be there and are serious about [the production] because they made the effort to be there and audition.” 
Community theater also gives kids a chance to perform alongside adults, which is an “invaluable experience,” said Elaine Gatchell, founder and owner of the Leddy Center community theater in Epping. 
“I think children’s theater is wonderful, but it’s always beneficial to work with people who are older than you and have more experience. You learn more than if you are just working with your peers,” she said. “Having Daddy Warbucks in Annie be a man instead of another child gives children that full theater experience.” 
Dionne said there are also benefits to joining a community theater program that produces kids-only shows, the main one being that it usually has a greater focus on theater education. 
“[Performing with adults] is a different experience,” he said. “Sometimes the kids are just a garnish to the show. It’s not tailored to kids. They’ll have a good time, and you should still definitely look for any plays that have kid parts in them, but you can learn more valuable skills in a youth production, especially if you’re new [to theater].” 
The best way to find audition opportunities is to check local theater company websites or, better yet, sign up for their email list to receive announcements about upcoming auditions. Depending on the kind of show they’re auditioning for, kids may be asked to read from a script, recite a prepared monologue, sing a prepared song or follow directions for a simple dance routine. The most important thing for a kid to do to have a successful audition, Gatchell said, is to know what’s expected of them and come prepared. 
“You’d be surprised at how many kids don’t prepare at all,” she said. “You have to have your number rehearsed, and you should research the show you’re auditioning for and be familiar with it. You’re still going to be nervous, but if you’re prepared, it will go much better.” 
Gatchell’s advice to kids is to stay positive, regardless of the casting results. If they didn’t get a part, they should look at the audition as good experience that will help them improve for their next audition. If they got a small part or a part in the chorus line, she said, that’s still something to be celebrated. 
“Don’t be devastated or insulted,” she said. “Every person on that stage is necessary, and sometimes being in the chorus is the most fun part to have. If you get a small part, go for it. Never turn it down.” 

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