Kids prepare for summer of ‘Rascal Rep’ at LTM
By Rachel Hill - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Fri., Mar. 25, 2011
Summer activities for kids can take many forms. There’s the tried and true: camps, sports and anything that takes place outdoors.
But have you or your child considered that they might audition to participate in a theatrical production this summer? If this hasn’t come to mind in years past, you may be surprised at how much a young performer can get out of being involved in a real live stage production, and how much goes into putting on a play.
The Little Theatre of Manchester held auditions for its “Rascal Rep” summer theatre program on March 19, in preparation for the upcoming production of “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.”
The program, intended for children ages 10 to 17 years old, is in its 15th season and growing stronger each year, producing junior versions of well-known musicals that have cast members learning everything from stage presence to set design.
An intimate group of about 25, kids who are cast in “Fiddler, Jr.” get the opportunity to see behind the scenes of an actual musical that is open to the public, and be ready for opening night after five weeks of rehearsals, on July 22.
Rehearsing every day from June 20 through July 22, kids come from many of the surrounding towns to get involved in Rascal Rep to sing, dance and act, and have loads of fun in the process. According to LTM Executive Director Joyce Hodgson, a number of the younger students go on to perform in adult productions, taking with them what they have learned and absorbed from their time at Cheney Hall.
And what they learn are some life-long lessons. “Working as a team is something the kids will see here,” said Hodgson, “They also learn how to let someone else shine besides themselves. Here, everybody gets to be a star, whether they have an ensemble part or a starring role.”
There’s also a degree of courageousness that comes with being in a musical. “Getting up on stage takes bravery,” said Hodgson. “Having the nerve and the fearlessness makes them feel good.”
Children in Rascal Rep also learn the importance of leadership, in taking the initiative to help others do well so that the production is a success and everyone involved feels that they’ve made a solid contribution.
Co-director Tracy Funke said that the older kids often take it upon themselves to help the younger ones in Rascal Rep, learning key tools about management and guidance. Of course, following cues and the educational aspects of reading and memorizing lines can also be quite beneficial to a child.
Kids in Rascal Rep stay engaged every day at Little Theatre of Manchester. “It’s a great summer activity,” said Hodgson. And, the auditioning process – which includes singing 18 to 24 bars a cappella, reading sides and performing a short dance piece in the style of the show – is a good way for children to begin to feel at ease on stage. Hodgson said, “They can come up on stage and sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ if they sing it with gusto.”
Evan Gonzales is entering his fifth year with Rascal Rep and said that he likes working together to feel part of a group. “It feels like a family here, and I get to see friends I haven’t seen in a while,” he said.
Parent Andrea Gallo brought her daughter Milena to try out, too. She said, “This is a new interest for her, something for her to build on and find a niche.”
Funke added, “We hope [Rascal Rep] fosters a love of the arts for these kids and that they will love it for the rest of their lives. We strive to instill that.”
For more information or to inquire about tickets, contact the Cheney Hall box office at 860-647-9824.