Children build life skills performing in musicals

Published in the August 20 – September 3, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek Children performers sing at Theater Fun’s show “Willy Wonka Jr.” in July.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Children performers sing at Theater Fun’s show “Willy Wonka Jr.” in July.

Starting at the age of 7 when she studied ballet, Carol Romo has loved being a part of the performing arts. Her Morgan Hill-based company Theater Fun shares that love with children as she teaches them how to act, sing and dance in musical plays.

Morgan Hill Life asked Romo about the performing arts and why parents should consider guiding their kids into the magical world of the theater stage.

Why do you have a passion for teaching children the arts of stagecraft through Theater Fun?

There’s nothing like working with children. They’re sponges. They come in. They have no preconceived notions. They’re so honest. You can get anything out of them in terms of theater performance. The feedback from parents when they tell me their child is not the same, that their child is so much more confident and secure, that means a lot to me.

What are some benefits children gain from getting involved in a theater group such as Theater Fun?

Oh, my gosh, there are so many benefits. They meet new friends. They learn teamwork, creativity, they gain the confidence to be able to get on stage in front of people, as well as responsibility and discipline. They have to learn how to memorize their dialogue. They learn how to sing and to dance. And they all have a ball doing it. And these are skills that will help them all their lives.

What is your approach to teaching children how to perform for an audience and feel comfortable on stage?

We laugh a lot. Once a child does something that makes the other kids respond with laughter, that’s when that child is forever open. When they come in, I tell them that this is a family for the next eight weeks. I say, “There’s no bullying or nasty comments, there’s none of that, and I will be all over you if I hear that. I want to have a safe place for you to just let go and explore and have fun.”

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I am a disciplinarian but I do it in a way that I would never hurt them. I really consider what works for children. When I was in ballet, I had a mean, nasty ballet teacher who would make me cry and I’d hide into myself even more. So I learned from that. I encourage kids a lot. I praise them a lot. I help them develop their discipline. If I see something unique in a child, that spark, I encourage them. And I love being open to their ideas and listening to their input in the creative process.

You’re now auditioning for roles in “The Wizard of Oz” to be performed in Gilroy. Why did you select this classic story and why might Morgan Hill parents encourage their kids to get involved in it?

I was going to do “Peter Pan” at first, but then I suggested “The Wizard of Oz” to a couple of parents and they loved it and so I said, “OK, that’s it.” It’ll be a lot of fun.

I encourage parents to get their kids involved because the children will discover it’s a phenomenal experience to perform on stage. They do the weeks of work in creating it, and then when they get on on stage for the audience and hear the first explosion of applause, they really feel good about themselves. You know, pretty much all the arts have been taken out of schools these days, so this is an incredible opportunity for the kids to experience performing arts and discover their creative side.

THEATER FUN

What: Auditions for ‘The Wizard of Oz’
Hours: Classes every Tuesday from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
9/9 – 12/16
Register now: (408) 778-6231, or visit www.theaterfun.com

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Email: marty@morganhilllife.com
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek