(All photos are of our actual past productions. Pictured here are 2 cast members from "Mary Poppins.")
Our Approach to Children's Theater
For over 20 years, Robby Hedge and her theater companies have provided countless young performers throughout Westchester and beyond with the opportunity to develop their dramatic skills in a fun, safe and creative environment. True, there are many other companies that do this too--so let us tell you how our approach differs from theirs.
1. Your Child's Journey Into Acting Is Just As Important To Us As The Final Product
For many companies, it's all about show night--having the biggest, best, glitziest, error-free production. That's important, but it moves the focus of your child's work to a commercial viewpoint. The end result is more for the audience than for your child. While we of course take pride in putting on a great show, it won't come at the expense of your child. We take great care to help our students discover and nurture their untapped talent along the way, and their needs won't be pushed aside in the push to get to show night.
2. No Auditions - Everyone is Welcome
Auditions are required by many companies but we don't use them. We so believe that every child has the potential to perform that we don't like to turn any child away due to lack of experience or aptitude. We create a non-competitive, friendly and respectful atmosphere right from the start. We also know that many kids who are talented just don't audition well--just like many really smart kids just don't test well.
3. We Engage At An Earlier Age
We offer our programs mainly to children from Grades K to 6, starting younger than most other companies. While the younger kids (K-1) rehearse separately and for a shorter time (one hour instead of two) each week, both groups are in the same production. This is also unlike other companies that have junior activities for their younger students and reserve their main productions for their older kids. It's great for team building and promotes respect when children of all ages learn to deal with each other while working towards the show.
4. We Come To Your Town
Because we procure our studio spaces, we're able to offer our year-round drama discovery programs, summer camps, school holiday/break camps and other extras in any town in Westchester, Putnam and Connecticut. We're not fixed in any one location and this cuts down on travel time to rehearsals, which can be important on busy school nights and for parents who work. Our studios are located in schools and churches that are probably already familiar to you and your child. This also cuts down on the intimidation factor, especially for younger kids.
5. We Don't Require Other Classes in Acting, Singing, Dancing, Etc.
We don't break down the drama discovery process into individual acting, singing or dance-specific segments (and then work towards upselling or cross-promoting those classes). We start the kids rehearsing from the very start because we have found this works best with their still-developing senses of time, patience and conceptualization. We know kids think differently than adults do, and we work with that knowledge.
6. Our Rehearsals Are Structured to be Flexible
Yes, we have a lot to get through on rehearsal nights but we design our weekly sessions accordingly. We put in enough flexibility so that we can not only work through the unforeseen challenges that are unique to the particular group, but more importantly, we can incorporate suggestions of our kids. You'd be surprised at how creative kids can be (we're not!) and how many wonderful ideas they have that have made it into the program and shows.
7. We Don't Mind Nurturing Your Child's Other Talents
We know that children are egocentric ("Look at what I can do!" "Look at what I have!") so if we can, we'll incorporate that ability or that item into the child's role. For example, we've put acrobatic movements into our dance choreography to showcase kids who are also gymnasts. We've incorporated a child magician's magic trick into a background scene. And of course, many stuffed animals, dolls and toys have temporarily become part of the set because it worked and was important to a child. A child once wore her great-grandfather's fedora to play a reporter in "Annie," surprising--and deeply touching--the grandmother who came to see the show.
8. We Use Adult Actors
In many of our programs, children are joined by adult trained actors in key roles. This enhances the production and provides our young participants with the opportunity to work with professional talent. It's fun and educational for the kids, and we know it's something they enjoy very much.
9. Parents Can Help But It's Not Required
We believe that your child's experience in our programs should be a happy one for you too as a parent. So we don't ask you to commit a great deal of time (some companies ask parents to build sets, sell tickets, sew costumes, etc.,) except for helping your child rehearse his or her lines and ensuring that they make it to and from rehearsals on time. But if parents so choose, they can fill non-speaking roles or help backstage, making participation in these programs a wonderful family affair.
10. Our Program Fees and Our Ticket Pricing are Family Friendly Yes, we are more of a "grass-roots" company than many others, but this enables more children and their families to enjoy our programs. Our program fees are more in line with what we believe the typical family can manage on an on-going basis. Also, our ticket pricing reflects this, making our shows a great value for an evening of enjoyable family entertainment.