I am not a stage mom. But, the other day I ended up in the middle of a discussion with a stage dad who, for many years, has designated a great deal of his time and resources to support his teenage son’s performing career. The cry of the stage parent: chauffeuring from one rehearsal to the next, scouting costumes, building sets, selling tickets and program ads, and, of course, sitting in the audience for the entire production run. Then, without a breath, off to the next one!
My experience working at The Glimmerglass Festival has given me a unique behind-the-scenes look at the excitement performances with children bring to the audience, fellow cast members and teams backstage. And, sometimes, it doesn’t stop when Glimmerglass’s curtain closes. After the 2012 season, one of the young performers from “Lost in the Stars” went on to sing the role of Young Simba in “The Lion King” on Broadway while the children cast in “The Music Man” had the opportunity to tour with the production to the Middle Eastern country of Oman.
We are truly lucky to live in a community with so many great organizations that offer children the opportunity to shine on the big stage. Orpheus Theatre in Oneonta is very active throughout the year with youths in the region. In addition to programming one musical each season that requires a children’s ensemble, the company hosts weekly theater troops for first- through sixth-graders on Thursdays and teens on Sundays. For two weeks each summer, Orpheus runs a summer camp for the same age groups, which culminates in a performance of a junior-version of a fully staged musical. Orpheus also conducts workshops for first- through sixth-graders during winter and spring breaks.
The Roxbury Arts Group in Delaware County offers a variety of platforms for children to explore the performing arts. For the past several summers, the company has hosted the Rock ‘n’ Pop Musical Camp — a two-week long adventure in Stamford with associate conductor of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys,” Debra Barsha. Campers ages 9 to 14 write a mini musical, for which they also create costumes and sets, concluding in a fully youth-developed performance.
In addition to the camp, the Roxbury Arts Group often casts children in performances, including roles in its popular radio plays; and, open mic nights, hosted the first Friday of each month in Stamford, are known to draw musicians of all ages, including local high school bands. The organization also participates in the Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership, or CROP, which is a consortium that provides enriching after school programs. Much like the group’s summer camps and workshops, the CROP programs cover a variety of art forms, including performance art.
Each season I’ve been with Glimmerglass, the number of children in the productions has grown. I first recall a singular 4-year-old supernumerary (an actor that does not sing in an opera) during my second season with the company, and this summer will showcase a locally cast 24-person children’s chorus in a new version of David Lang’s “the little match girl passion.” There is a special delight in watching a child grow from his/her audition, through rehearsals and performances, to the final curtain call, and knowing that your very talented colleagues helped them through it all.
Let me rephrase my opening sentence: I am not a stage mom, yet. But, I know that day’s coming. Since she was barely able to walk I could see it in my daughter — the desire to perform, the thrill of being the center of attention and the love of vocal and instrumental music performed by, well, her. It’s an undeniable fact that my quiet evenings at home (if you don’t count her singing show tunes while playing piano) are numbered. And, I couldn’t be more excited!
June Dzialo is a member of ArtsOtsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and marketing director for The Glimmerglass Festival. Column ideas and questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Around the Arts columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/aroundthearts.