Children Gain Taste of Live Theater

Children Gain Taste of Live Theater

Lee High School has been doing a family show suitable for children for each of the last five years. They have presented such classics as "The Velveteen Rabbit," "School House Rock — Live!," and "The Adventures of Stuart Little. " The shows are scheduled for regular public performances but they are also offered to the local elementary and middle schools for daytime performances at a greatly reduced rate. This year there was a double-bill of "Wiley and the Hairy Man" and "Wolf Tales" which were performed together in the evening but were offered individually to the schools. After these special performances, the cast and crew participate in a discussion with the audience.

Theater director Trena Weiss-Null began doing these shows her first year at Lee because she wanted to promote the live theater experience to youths while they were still young. "Theater has such energy and magic. The immediacy of live performance is being lost on today's video generation; they just don't know how much fun it is," said Weiss-Null. The shows are geared toward children but are always put together with everyone in mind so adults and teenagers will enjoy them too. Many teachers prepare lessons around the shows and use the field trip as the culminating experience of the unit.

Because Lee's auditorium is undergoing renovation next year, the theater department is considering "touring" its family show next year. "It's going to be an interesting year. We probably won't be able to use the auditorium until spring." Weiss-Null went on to explain that although it will be a difficult and costly proposition to continue to offer a three-mainstage show season, it will be a great learning experience for her students because in the real world "one rarely rehearses and works exclusively in one space."

Due to the recent snowstorms, this year's show was mostly postponed with one performance completely canceled. "Many people who would have seen the show were unable to attend since the bulk of our performances were the weekend after the snow and most weren't even aware that the building was open." Several other local schools had similar problems with their winter shows. Weiss-Null quipped that "next year we'll put more snow contingency in place just in case, so it probably won't snow at all."