There’s a lot of stuff for kids to do over the summer vacation, with a wide variety of results.
There is, of course, the video game route, that leads to endless hours on the couch or in front of a computer, most of the time with a drink or junk food. Not much value.
There are sleepovers and time spent with friends, outdoor activities and sports, which have much more value.
Over the past two years, my family has also found that there is a chance to be with friends, make new friends, and take skills that they are excited about developing onto the stage.
Over that time, my oldest two children have been involved with the Boquet River Theatre Festival. They have been in “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” and “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”
Their interest in the arts started through the Westport Youth Commission, which partners with the Depot Theatre for its apprentice program.
It was a great chance to get an early experience into the world of the theater and what it takes to put on a production.
When the kids found out about BRTF, my oldest jumped at the chance to audition.
When she went, my middle child was also asked to audition, and I can’t thank them enough for it.
Over that time, he has become more comfortable in front of people and on the stage. He has learned skills in memorization and other traits of the stage that have helped him in school and in life.
Really, everyone involved has. It is amazing to watch a group of youngsters pull together to put on as professional of a show as they do.
What is even better about it is the fact that the production teams for the shows have now entered into the second generation, with former performers Alyssa Carroll and Dale Mason now serving as directors for the junior program along with choreographer Jacqueline Robertin (you know something is working when those who have come before are dedicated to make sure the program keeps going for future generations), producer Gigi Mason, BRTF President Ed Mason, Jim Carroll and others (sorry if I forgot anyone, there are a lot to be thanked).
It’s been a program that has instilled confidence and self esteem into a lot of children as well as the chance to perform for family and friends and hear the applause and see the ovations at the end of each show.
Over the past weekend, the junior performance took place (the senior performance took place a week earlier). Each night, the Whallonsburg Grange was filled with more and more people, with a standing-room-only crowd for the Sunday matinee show.
So, with all of the choices that my children have in the summer, my hats off to those of BRTF who give them the chance to be creative, funny and inspiring for five weeks in July and August. It’s time well spent.