First Stage Theater Academy

Last Friday, A.J. finished up a four week class at the First Stage Theater Academy. I am very impressed by their program and I am glad that we have such an amazing opportunity for our kids here in the Milwaukee area. A.J. took their two week course last summer and had such a great time that he asked if he could take the four week course this year. The course runs all day and is broken into four parts each day: Acting Theory, Musical Theatre, Improvisation, and Shakespeare. I’m sure that I don’t have those names exactly correct but they describe the subject matter in each class. On the last day of the program, they put on a presentation to demonstrate all of the things that they have learned. It is so cool to see all of these kids get up in front of an audience to sing, dance, and act. Most kids their age would be scared to put themselves out there like that.

The director of the Academy, John Maclay, indicated that this program is one of the largest professional theatre training programs in the country. Its instructors consist of professional theatre actors and directors that aren’t working on any shows during the summer. It is interesting that their true purpose is not to train a bunch of budding actors. Their real goal is to help the students to become better people. Their motto is teaching “life skills through stage skills.” Because of the structure of the program, there are no cliques and there is no teasing or bullying. That message is reinforced at the beginning and end of each day by the director of the Academy as well as by all of the instructors in the classrooms. How cool is that!

One of the other classes that the First Stage Theater Academy puts on during the summer is called the Company Class. In this class, the students spend four weeks (all day) rehearsing a play that they present two performances of during the final weekend. This weekend, we saw one of the Company Classes put on The Foreigner. Our whole family really enjoyed the show. It was wonderful to see what they accomplished in four weeks. In the last year, we have attended both a play and a musical put on by our local high school drama department and I was amazed at how much better the kids of the Company Class production were. Even though they were the same age as the high school students, the training and direction that they received from the class really showed when they were on stage.

Congratulations to John Maclay and the entire First Stage Theater Academy staff for putting together a terrific program and sticking to their principles.

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