Memorial Opera House’s Spring Children’s Theatre Offers Classes for All Skill Levels

By: Anna Hanson Last Updated: January 20, 2014

Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House is offering something special for kids this spring with The Children’s Theatre, a spring and summer program for kids ranging from ages 3 all the way up to 18.

Children from around the area are welcome to sign up for these specialty classes throughout the year. Michelle Smith, a business director for the Opera House, explained, “This is the first year that we will have the same instructors all year for the kids and the first year to have it in the spring, summer and fall for them to build upon their skills and grow through our theater.”

The theater will host many different programs on three different days - Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays - all taking place from February through March. With a wide array of classes to choose from, these programs are designed to have everyone’s different interests in mind.

In the case for the little kids, the classes will focus on the development of necessary skills like motor skills, concentration, expression, movement, working together, and musical skills - just to name a few. Move-n-Groove, Pee Wee Puppets, and Munchkin Mozarts all handle the practice and development of techniques that they might not be able to practice with everyday.

Kate-Lynn Edwards, an instructor for the ages 3 to Pre-K group classes, describes them as a way to connect with abilities they have not yet experienced. “With Move-n-Groove especially it’s an introduction to being fluid. It’s about starting to get into moving with our body, feeling the energy in our body and the many different abilities it has,” she explained. When you’re a kid you don’t really have the connection with that. It’s starting to put that into their head, like how can I look like a snake? Can we look like a melting ice cream cone? That’s what we’re reaching for.”

All of these classes will start on February 5th all the way until March 19th.

Do you have kids a little older than pre-K? Don’t worry; there are programs especially for them as well. In the 5 to 7 aged division, Memorial Opera House offers Creative Drama, which spotlights storytelling, imagination, and problem solving. To complement those previous skills, MOH will offer Beginner Bachs, a course in learning basic music skills, gaining vocal and or musical expression, and how to work successfully within an ensemble. There theatre will also host Pre-Puppetry, which targets on important motor skills, focusing while also being able to play theater games.

The events also will have a special program for teenagers which begins their training as an actor. Acting I will bring their attention to developing their skills within the craft, reflection and to learn the fundamental ways to be a master at improvisation. The singular class on Thursdays will last from February 6th to March 20th or on Saturdays starting on February 8th until March 22nd.

All of the classes listed above introduce all the important trades listed, but for Natalie Franks, an instructor for the older kids’ groups, the reach of what they will be learning extends much further than the surface.

“All of these classes will introduce [the students] to not only skills like acting, but skills that will help them throughout their lives. They can build up confidence, learn how to get along with each other, and develop people skills that will transfer to their future careers,” she explained. “If they can build a set together, act together, or sing together, there definitely will be experiences that they can benefit from.”

Not quite interested in the stage but more into music? Well you’re in luck. Diane Hawkins will be at the Opera House to instill musical growth through private lessons. She will be able to instruct all ages and levels in either flute, piano or keyboard lessons. The training will consist of learning music theory, fundamentals of music, technical aspects of playing the instrument and learning a variety of styles.

After moving back to Northwest Indiana from Oregon, Diane wanted to be able to teach in her re-discovered home. Starting to teach at the Opera House is a fresh and exciting experience. She explained, “I’ve been teaching private lessons for the past 25 years. The enjoyment of seeing the student progress to their goal has always been there. When they’re able to reach their goals and I see them clapping like, ‘Yeah! Yeah! We got it!’ it’s great to have those moments no matter where you are.”

In all, there are plenty of different classes for kids of all ages to be a part of. The Children’s Theater is a thrilling way to spend cold evenings in the spring. If you’re interested in music, acting, singing, dancing, or any form of expression on stage try out these classes. There’s room for everyone to grow and experience how fun the arts really can be.

For further information on the Children’s Theater, including pricing, please contact the Memorial Opera House at 21-548-9137 or visit the Memorial Opera House website at memorialoperahouse.com.