Do you have a kid who is interested in theater, but you don’t know how to get them started? Well, look no further than Hopewell Valley Children’s Theatre! Commonly dubbed HVCT, this entry-level program is a great way for children grades 1-12 to get experience in theater while connecting with other kids in the community. Exclusive to MercerMe, this article will give you a behind-the-scenes (or should I say stage) view on what an HVCT program is like for the children who enter their space; from the point of view of a young thespian whose love for theater has only grown since entering the HVCT family.
As someone on their sixth show with HVCT, I would say that the most tedious, yet enthralling, part of any show is the audition process. For all three shows HVCT provides each year—Winter (grades 1-8), Junior Summer (grades 1-5), and Senior Summer (6-12)—the first audition is arguably the easiest: vocal auditions. Like the name suggests, these auditions are for singing. A few days before the auditions, materials are released. These materials are generally the songs pre-chosen by the directors—Bernadette Furlong, Vicki Krampf, and Ryan Smith—as well as an audition form for students to fill out. This part of auditions helps students develop independence and memorization skills.
After vocal auditions, there are the dance auditions. As students only have a short amount of time to memorize the 8-measure dance sequence created by Kendall and Chandler Storcella, this part of auditions is a great way for students to explore different methods of knowledge retention and also shows them how to display confidence and work under pressure. Dance auditions aren’t so much of an evaluation of a child’s skill, but more of an assessment of their stage presence. In a dance audition, young actors are often encouraged to smile and be confident as opposed to getting every step right. HVCT cares for their actors, and dance auditions can make even the shyest kids step out of their shell. While waiting for the cast list, patience is another skill students can develop. Although this time period can be stressful, worries will be all but forgotten by the time first rehearsal rolls around.
First rehearsals are always a fun experience. It is typically a read-through of the script, and allows the cast to get an idea of the show. These first few rehearsals are often filled with laughs as actors begin to experience many of the lines for the first time, and these rehearsals help to create banter between cast members as we joke around. After reading through the show, students can take many of the skills they learned in auditions and apply them to two of the first components we learn: singing and dancing. Despite rehearsals for the Summer Shows being only three hours per day during the first four weeks and four hours per day during the final week, singing and dancing are a great way to release energy. Although these parts can be draining, it also gives students an opportunity to learn about pacing themselves. With all the things students will learn, HVCT encourages note-taking and practice outside of rehearsals to help with knowledge retention, another skill that can help your child learn healthy study habits.
For students, HVCT is a wonderful opportunity to learn about memorization, commitment, and more, but for the adults behind it, things aren’t always puppies-and-rainbows. Nearly two years ago, the world shut down, and small businesses like HVCT got the short end of the stick. Having to cancel both their 2020 Summer Shows and the 2020-21 Winter Show took a toll on the program, as they not only lost three shows worth of tuition and revenue, but also their storage spaces during the 2021 summer floods. They lost 22 years worth of costume pieces, sets, furniture, and more. By buying tickets to HVCT’s summer 2022 productions: Frozen Jr. (July 29 & 30) and High School Musical 2: On Stage (July 28, 30, and 31), you can help HVCT fund their next production and continue helping students develop life-long skills and passions.
Tickets are on sale the week of July 18th-July 31st. You can either pre-order tickets from showtix4u.com, or purchase them the day of at the box office. The shows will be run at the Hopewell Valley Central High School in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). For more information visit hvct.org.
Submitted by Rebekkah Siegelheim, a rising 8th-grader at Timberlane Middle School. Break a leg, Rebekkah!
Photos of rehearsals for this summer’s productions provided by Vicki Krampf and Rebekkah Siegelheim
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