This past Friday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the opening night performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Whidbey Children’s Theatre. The show was extremely well done, guided by the deft hands of Director Rose Woods and Assistant Director Ken Martinez. Tickets are selling rapidly–if you’re in the Whidbey vacinity, make sure you get a chance to see it!
The performance reminded me of my first few children’s theatre performances. By the age of seven, I had played a handful of nativity animals in the annual Christmas pageant. The local branch of the public library housed a little theatre in its basement, out of which a children’s theatre called Playtime Productions was housed.
At the age of seven, I was cast as both the court dog and the French princess’s lady in waiting for a production of The Princess and the Pea. It was my first major show and I even had a quick change! (I had to wear a lace dress under a slightly oversized dog costume usually reserved for those young actors portraying Toto.)
I remember all of my lines: I had to howl once as the dog, and as the lady in waiting, I said “Oui, mademoiselle,” “Oui, mademoiselle” and “Perhaps eet eez a bussle?!” Everything went smoothly for the most part, except once, after a show, I removed my dog head, which disturbed a nearby toddler.
I went on to play Donner (or was it Blitzen?) in a fractured version of Snow White where somehow two of Santa’s reindeer ended up in the forrest and became part of the dwarfs’ posse. I played Sleeping Beauty’s lady in waiting when I was in middle school (who, in this particular version, ends up getting the prince). I remember having trouble projecting and working really hard on becoming loud (which, some may argue, is a skill that has stayed with me ever since).
And on it on it went. In high school I participated in show choir, the Young Shakespeare Players and several musicals. And I went on to major in Theatre/Dance in college. After graduation, I got a job touring with (gasp) a children’s theatre, acting and directing in a production of Jack and the Beanstalk.
So how does children’s theatre save the world? It instills children with some of the most important life skills at a very young age: keeping your imagination and sense of wonder, collaborating with others, being eager to learn new skills, gaining confidence in speaking in front of others–the list is endless. Basically, children’s theatre helps to grow awesome people who are extremely likely to be thoughtful adults and help communities thrive.
Whidbey Children’s Theatre is currently in the middle of a fundraiser: Forty Bucks for the Future. Consider giving to a great cause. It’s an investment that may just save the world.