One of my greatest joys is seeing people do what they love. I’ve never seen this ring more true that in musical theater. Ever since I was little, I have loved musicals. I used to watch the Mary Martin Peter Pan VHS until it eventually broke. The first real Broadway show was “The Lion King” followed quickly by “Wicked” which I saw multiple times. As soon as “Aladdin” was released, the soundtrack quickly became a staple in our car (“Frozen” is currently the new favorite–I can’t wait until it starts touring!).
LittleGray’s first Broadway experience was when Aladdin came to the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. I was able to purchase advance tickets with my Disney Visa Card…for 5 months later. It was nothing but magical to see her face glow with excitement as she saw real people perform the songs we’ve sang in our car countless times. When last minute tickets for Cinderella at the Pantages became available, I jumped at the chance and decided to buy LittleSage a ticket as well. Both of the girls were enthralled and felt like literal princesses (and a pumpkin) as they waltzed out of the Pantages. I’m not one to cry, but I definitely teared up every time Cinderella transformed her dress!
While attending Broadway shows at the Pantages is a dream come true, I can’t keep dropping $50-100 a ticket. I recently discovered Encore South Bay productions which is a non-profit educational theater company that seeks to build community and transform lives by providing high quality, intensive musical and theater training as well as performances in the South Bay and Los Angeles Harbor areas.
The first Encore performance we saw was Mary Poppins back in January. I got a last minute ticket deal from Goldstar and actually got my tickets for FREE (well, $9 after service fees). I was surprised to see so many little kids in the production since I didn’t realize that they are also a performing arts education program as well. When The Hunchback of Notre Dame tickets popped up on Goldstar, I immediately bought them.
To prepare the girls for the show, I made them Clopin and Esmeralda costumes. We listened to the soundtrack in the car and they gleefully exclaimed, “That’s me, Mom!” when they heard Clopin and Esmeralda sing. During the show, they sang along with the familiar songs. My favorite part about local musical theater is when the cast comes out to meet people after the show The girls were positively star struck as the cast danced with them and posed for pictures.
If you are local to the Los Angeles or Orange County area and looking for a performing arts summer camp, Encore offers one and two week classes. Children ages 4 to 18 participate in daily intensive rehearsals that cumulate into a show at the end of the session. The two week programs are Mary Poppins, Shakespeare Camp, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, and Alice in Wonderland Jr. Their one week camps are Avengers vs Justice League, Trolls, and Harry Potter. You can find more information about tuition and enrollment here.
Encore holds open auditions for all of their productions and have roles for all ages! Their next production is Peter Pan which has roles for children as young as 4 years old. Auditions are being held on September 9 for both adults and children. The student tuition is $525 which covers all rehearsals from September 20 through the performances at the end of July. This is about the same price as one would pay for monthly dance lessons and a recital fee, except you get the additional benefit of having the experience of being a part of a professional stage show. After meeting the cast of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the girls have caught the performing bug and can’t wait to get on stage!