Top kids’ theater arts programs
Mama Rose I most assuredly am not. But I did do my share of vetting local acting programs while raising my today 20-something musical theater actress who—can we kvell?—recently made her Off-Broadway debut. So if you, too, share your address and/or DNA with a young thespian or diva-in-the-making, check out the following training programs.
1. APPLAUSE WESTCHESTER
114 Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck (914) 500-2599; applauseny.com
This area newcomer is an offshoot of the highly regarded Applause program launched 13 years ago in Manhattan by Audrey Kaplan. As its families moved up to Westchester, it decided to move with them.Classes: Musical theater classes including acting, singing, and dancing, starting with a “Mommy & Me” version for babies continuing through age 12; hip-hop classes also are offered for first- through third-graders. Teens can attend weekend musical theater workshops in its Manhattan studio. Ages: 4-18. Season: School year + summer Prices: $450-$470/12-week classes + $20 registration fee; $1,500 for weekend New York City workshops.
2. BROADWAY TRAINING CENTER OF WESTCHESTER
10 Washington Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-5825; broadwaytraining.com
Founded in 1993 by Fiona Santos, a performer/musical director whose earlier gig was with Disney, and her husband, Jason Brantman, a director, BTCW develops theater-arts skills through classroom exercises and performance opportunities. Classes: Junior and Senior Ensembles, Musical Theater, Cabaret Performance, Acting, and Improv (plus extensive dance offerings). Ages: 3-18. Season: School year + summer. Prices: one-semester, $375; full-year classes, $675 (Improv Fundamentals)-$1,350 (Advanced Acting/Improv); summer sessions, $850-$1,995.
3. THE LIGHTHOUSE YOUTH THEATRE
17 Gramercy Pl, Thornwood (914) 741-4205; lytshows.org
Launched in 2006 by Artistic Director John Fanelli, a former actor, LYT highlights its 6,000-square-foot studio space as a gathering place for young performers. Classes: Voice, Dance, and Theatre classes combine acting exercises with theatre games, voice, and dance instruction. Ages: 5-19. Season: School year + summer. Prices: $125 for classes; $375 to participate in productions; $725-$975 for summer sessions. Also offered: unlimited classes for $125 monthly fee.
4. PLAY GROUP THEATRE
200 Hamilton Ave, White Plains (914) 946-4433; playgroup.org
Launched in 1994 by husband-and-wife Steven and Jill Abusch, who together contribute their wide-ranging professional directing, design, and acting experience, PGT offers young actor training and performance opportunities in everything from straight drama to big-name and original musical theater. Classes: Acting, Improv, Musical Theatre, Dance, etc. Ages: 4-17. Season: School year + summer. Prices: $250 for 8-week program.
5. RANDOM FARMS KIDS THEATER
77 Executive Blvd, Elmsford (914) 740-1010; randomfarms.com
In 1995, then 16-year-old Anya Wallach took the old “Let’s put on a show!” spirit to heart and founded a small theater group for kids in her Chappaqua neighborhood. Today, it’s a thriving actor’s training program and the resident children’s theater of Tarrytown Music Hall Classes: Jellybeans (grades K-2), Workshops (grades 3-8), The Edge (a teen production company (grades 9-college); all classes involve vocal technique, dance technique, stage presence, projection, and improvisation skills. Ages: 5-College. Season: School year + summer. Prices: $350-$525, depending on program; scholarships available.
6. THE RENAISSANCE THEATRE ACADEMY
AT WHITE PLAINS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
11 City Pl, White Plains (914) 328-1600; ppac.com
This state-of-the-art theater offering a full schedule of professional productions was founded in White Plains’ City Center in 2003. In March 2007, it launched its arts education program headed by director/teaching artist Toni Rubia. Classes: Playwriting, Cultural Arts, Acting, Dance, Stage Combat, and Production. Ages: 7-17. Season: School year + vacation weeks and summer. Prices: School year classes, $350; three-week summer program, $800.
7. THEATRE INSTITUTE AT JCC OF MID-WESTCHESTER
999 Wilmot Rd, Scarsdale (914) 472-3300; jccmidwestchester.org
While the JCC has been offering live children’s theater productions and kids’ acting classes for more than 10 years, its offerings have greatly expanded since Debra Katz came on board two years ago as producing director. Classes: Nursery Rhyme Theatre, Fables and Fairytales, Theatre, Acting, Musical Theatre, etc., plus Bendheim Jr. Performance Troupe and Mitzvah Troupe; both by audition only. Ages: 3-18. Season: School year + summer. Prices: $340 for one-semester of Nursery Rhyme Theatre; $910 for full-year Acting; $400 for performance troupes, plus an annual $40 registration fee. FYI: Classes/performance opportunities available for special-needs children.
// Laurie Yarnell with research by Christina Moreschi