Frequently Asked Questions
Is it really a real show or just some fun songs in a class setting?
OH we do a SHOW! The kids each get a script and a role and are expected to learn it throughout their time with us! Our shows are either 30 minute or 60 minute versions of big productions. We use Music Theatre International, Inc professionally produced shows specifically for younger crowds. They are spectacular. Really. Your 6 year old can do it!
What does the schedule look like for the program?
We start out with theater games and getting to know each other. Then we learn some vocal technique and the music for the show. We cast it (usually on DAY 2 for camp, after 3 classes for a one semester class and after 6 weeks for our year round classes). We practice the music some more now with our soloists. We dance. We block (put the scene on stage and tell the actors where to go) and then we throw it all together with sets and costumes. It comes up fast- even for the year round programs.
Do you offer a refund if my child doesn’t like it?
Please understand we can offer no refunds after our shows are cast (that is, no refunds once camp starts, the 3rd week in a semester program and the 6th week in our year round program). If you decide to remove your child from class before casting has taken place you will get a refund minus the classes your child has participated in and a $50 administration fee. Though very rare, we do reserve the right to remove any child from class if he or she is a danger to other classmates or interferes in the enjoyment or learning process of our cast as a whole. In which case, you will be issued a refund minus the classes taken and a $50 administration fee.
I just learned about your program and you’ve already started, can I join? Do you offer a pro-rated rate?
Once summer camp has begun we do not take any new students. We move very quickly with the production of a show, but you can join right up to our first day!
Once our after school classes have started you may join at a pro-rated rate of $16 per class missed. Once we have cast the show, we do not admit more students. We cast after 3 weeks in a one semester program and after 6 weeks in a full year program.
How does casting work?
Anyone who signs up for our classes and camps is in the show. We do daily assessments of the kids before deciding on roles. There is no formal audition. We have found the nerves and fears that crop up from having to prepare a song to do on stage in front of everyone gets in the way of fun and learning. We are a supportive family.We play theater games, we watch behavior and how kids treat each other, we sing songs, we move, we discuss roles and finally when it’s closer to casting time and kids are more comfortable in the group we ask if individuals would like to sing for certain parts. Typically, the older kids will be cast in larger roles and the younger kids will be in the chorus and learn by older kid example. This allows for older kids who might not normally get a large role over an uber talented triple threat to have a chance at a bigger part. I will always prefer to cast someone who tries hard and has a good attitude over someone who has been trained with the best jazz hands in the west but isn’t a team player. We want all kids set up for success. We want them to feel comfortable and finish the show feeling proud and having had a fun time. Some kids are ready for big challenges and some are not- no matter their age. If there are many kids who sign up we will split the roles creating more opportunities for kids to play lead roles. We blind cast. We do not take into consideration what your child looks like when casting a role – it is not personal. Many girls will play male roles. This is a class in which to learn by doing. It is not a star maker class. Since we’ve been at this a long time as directors and actors ourselves, we ask you to please trust and accept our decision. Your child will do better with your full support.
My child is only available for some of the days- can she still sign up?
Because the purpose of our class is to put on a show attendance is important. We work as a team and in order to put on a successful show the team has to be united. You can’t play a great basketball game with 4 kids on the court. I would ask that a child not miss more than 3 rehearsals in an after school program or their role could be given to someone else. Our after school programs only meet once a week and often the things learned in class are forgotten by the next week. As you can imagine, being absent can confuse your child and the rest of the children in class and will reduce their ability to perform confidently. Making sure your child attends all of our summer camp hours is important since things move so quickly.
We’re out of town for the shows but my daughter wants to be in the class with her friends. Can she still sign up?
Your child must be available for the shows. The purpose of this class is to put on a show and we cast and start rehearsing very soon into the process. She would be very bored and bummed sitting and watching her friends work without the chance to do it herself.
My child is shy but loves musical theatre- should I sign her up?
Some of the very best actors I know are shy and quiet people. You don’t have to be the life of the party to be on stage. I have seen some miracles happen on stage with young kids who have not yet used their bodies and voices to express themselves. It can be scary to be on stage. We do occasionally have tears, but I have never had a student not end up doing the show in the end and feeling proud. Here is a testimonial from one of my former student’s parents: “My daughter participated in Caroline’s drama program for six years starting in elementary school. It was a transformative experience for her! When she started, my daughter was shy and would hardly speak a word to anyone she didn’t know well. She had a difficult time participating in class. Caroline was kind, patient and really encouraged her to grow. Six years later, not only was she playing and singing leading roles in the drama productions, she was selected to speak at her middle school graduation…to 3000 classmates and their guests! Caroline’s program was not just fun for my child, it provided discipline and skills that she will use well into adulthood.”
How do you handle stage fright?
It can be scary to get up and speak, sing and dance in front of people. We rehearse SO much that by the time the show comes up kids are eager to show the world. I tell them the best way to not be nervous is to be prepared. They are reminded often that the audience is on their side and out there rooting for them. We visualize the pride coming from them as warmth from the stage lights. It feels good. In addition to creating a supportive environment where everyone can make mistakes and be goofy throughout our time together, we practice breathing techniques to help calm and soothe. Every child in my class knows it is AOK to be scared- the bravery comes from doing it anyway. I’ve had many tears I’ve had to hug out, but I’ve never had someone not get on that stage.
My son really wants to do this, but none of his friends are interested- he says boys don’t do musical theatre- how can I convince him to do it anyway?
Does he know that Wolverine is a song and dance man? Does he know that Captain America grew up a shy guy who loved acting? Does he know how many muscles you have to use to dance like a pirate? Does he know football players practice ballet moves to increase their flexibility out on the field? Musical Theatre is for everyone. Every type of human. If he doesn’t join, then a lucky girl gets to play Captain Hook, Jafar, Baloo, Willy Wonka…the list goes on…and they’ll gladly do it! Don’t let them miss out! Boys need to express themselves, too! There is freedom in it. 🙂
I’ve heard that there is down time during the after school class where my child might not be doing as much as other kids. Why is this and what can they do to keep themselves busy?
The purpose of our class is to ultimately put on a full-fledged show for an audience. This means that each week we will have new scenes, new songs, and new dances to learn before we can put it all together. Once the show is cast we will break up rehearsals. Sometimes, depending on your child’s role, they will not work that day on the stage. Each class, though, we do a group game or exercise together before getting to work (but, shhh don’t tell your kids- the games and exercises are work, too and they are learning valuable life skills!). It is important that your child attend each rehearsal whether they are scheduled to be busy or not. It is part of being a team and working together to support each other. Your child will learn from observing as well. Often, we have absences and have to change our schedule last minute which means your child’s scene or song could be placed on the schedule for that day unexpectedly. In the downtime, we encourage the kids to take the time to help each other memorize their lines and songs and review their notes. It is our hope that they will learn to maximize their time in class so that they do not need to use too much time at home to work on their roles. Believe it or not this “down time” teaches your child personal responsibility, accountability and time management. Your kids will also be kept busy with other staff members. These staff members will supervise them as they learn to create character bios (and share them with the group) and in some cases may be working on props and costume pieces as the program moves along. Kids will also have a chance to decorate banners, posters and their own postcards to invite their friends and family to the show. There is always something to do, but if your child is comfortable with their preparation for the role(s) and still has down time we invite them to browse our many theater-related books. Depending on the location (and weather), there may even be a chance to play outside and run off some school day stress from time to time! Closer to show time, your child will be asked to “wait in the wings”. This teaches your child patience and respect for their fellow actors. When your child watches a part of rehearsal they witness their friends making mistakes and new discoveries on stage. They watch them recover. They watch them beam with pride. When it comes to their turn they will feel brave enough to make their OWN mistakes and new discoveries and their friends will know how to support and encourage!
Why do you charge for tickets to some shows?
First and foremost we want our programs to be open to all kids. Our ticket fees will allow for us to place some of that money back into a scholarship fund. Additionally, these shows are wonderfully produced specifically for little minds and bods by Music Theatre International, Inc. We buy the rights to the script and the music- it’s not free. Depending on the venue, we will also bring in extra lights and sound – all of it costs money. Your tuition pays for the teachers, the script and the costumes. So much more goes into putting on a show and after working really hard on their roles, kids deserve the hoopla surrounding a “real show”. It is a huge pay off.
Will I need to pay for an expensive costume? What are the hidden costs?
Unlike many dance/performance classes we do not charge for costumes/attire. Costumes are included in the tuition you pay. We might ask if you have an item at home (a white t-shirt or tank top, for example) or if you have a specific type of shoe. We don’t want this to be a financial hardship so if there is ever an issue we will work things out. Also, we have a pizza party on our show day and you will be asked to contribute $ toward it for your child. For some classes and camps we will charge a small amount for tickets to the show. You will receive two free tickets per child in class. Any other tickets (invited friends, family, community members) will need to be purchased.
How can I get involved?
Typically we don’t need volunteers until closer to show time. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get a group of young people to do something in an organized fashion, but it can be like herding cats. Add in nerves, sets, lights, costume changes and it can be a recipe for disaster. Parents who are willing to help a little before the show with costumes and make up help to create a sense of calm and safety that is needed for the show to go on. If you’re interested in putting in a little time we’d love to have you.
My child has special needs- can she participate?
Theatre is for everyone. I’ve taught kids on the spectrum as well as kids with physical disabilities. Our safe family attitude in theatre allows for all kids to be part of the family. Sometimes it helps for someone with special needs to have a parent or aid stay with them during class. We do play some games throughout the camp, semester or year that are physical and fast and other games that require fast thinking that can be stressful for some. Also, our venues do often have stairs and are elevated off the ground. Some accommodations can be made, but you know your child and their physical abilities best. I will work with you and your child to create a space for him/her to flourish- he or she can decide what games they want to participate in and which ones he’d feel safer or better skipping. For the most part, though, in my class everyone must be involved in as many ways as possible and try things that may feel out of their comfort zone- this is how we grow in theater. Your child will be expected to do the same in his or her own unique way with as little parental help as possible. Please talk to me about your child before ruling out our classes and camps.