Last summer, 25 lucky Grand Bend area children had a unique opportunity: to hone their performance skills working with talented theatre professionals. The one-week Huron Country Playhouse Youth Musical Theatre program was supported with a grant from Grand Bend Community Foundation, and this year the program will happen again.
Huron Country Playhouse has long had a youth usher program and often recruits local talent for children’s choruses. But as Executive Director Steven Karcher says, parent company Drayton Entertainment wanted to do more. “Our goal was to give kids a more rounded experience in the arts, to actually show them what the audition process would be like in terms of developing and rehearsing material. We wanted to offer the level of training they would typically only be able to access in a larger urban area.”
The 2017 program used material from Frozen and Dear Evan Hanson, a popular new Broadway musical. Each participant was given a monologue and a song from one of the shows to work on as potential audition pieces. They also participated in improv games, technique classes, backstage tours and more. Every afternoon they attended a master class led by an industry professional. It all culminated in a showcase for friends and family on the last day of the program.
Was a star born? Time will tell. But Karcher says the benefits go much further. “This is really about building confidence in young people. Whether they ultimately pursue a vocation in the arts or not, it’s about feeling comfortable with who they are and being free to express themselves. Those skills are relevant throughout your life.”