Baldwin children become monsters, aliens, nerds, blondes and brunettes
Emma Bailey had no trouble deciding in which of three short plays offered a one-day theater workshop Thursday she would apply her talents.
“I picked ‘Blondes Vs. Brunettes,’” she said. “It was the only musical. There wasn’t an outdoor musical this year, and I wanted to sing and dance.”
The 13-year-old was one of 29 youngsters from ages 5 to 13 who participated in the workshop Baldwin City Community Theater offered. The children performed in one of three plays: “Blondes Vs. Brunettes,” “Monster Junior High School” or “Clones and Video Game Heroes Save the World.”
The children arrived in the morning at Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, picked a play, rehearsed and concluded the day with a performance for their parents.
As Bailey observed, Baldwin City Community Theater didn’t have a June outdoor musical this year.
“We took the year off,” said BCCT Board member Joe Bathke. “It will be back next year. This is a little bit of a replacement.”
Fellow BCCT Board member Shelly Todd said the 29 youngsters Play in a Day drew was equivalent to the number of children’s roles usually available in the musical.
Play in a Day was available through Theatre of the Imagination of Kansas City, Mo. The company’s director, Miles McMahon, said Play in a Day has been offered about 70 times in the Kansas City area, usually during school breaks when parents can drop off children at 9 a.m. and returned to see performances at 5 p.m.
He writes all the plays performed and brings the costumes used in the performances, McMahon said. Children are given equal-sized roles, and teamwork is emphasized throughout the day.
“There’s never any leads,” McMahon said. “What nice is you can take kids who are very shy and very extraverted and put them in a show together and challenge everybody at their individual levels. This ‘Blondes Vs. Brunettes’ is a perfect example. We have this very shy little 6-year-old girl and this very not-shy 13 year old, and they are both having fun.
“The idea of equality in a play is great for team building and communication skills. With the extraverted kid, it teaches them it’s not all about them. And with the introverted kid, it helps them deal with stage fright”
At about mid-afternoon Thursday and after the casts of the three plays had one last rehearsal, it was time for the children to get their costumes for the final performance. Friends Olivia Petry and Ella Mozier, both 11, stood side-by-side, dressed for their “Monster Junior High School” roles. Petry said she wanted to be a vampire because they were “clean,” while Mozier said her werewolf character appealed to her because it would eat vampires.
Mozier said she was happy for the opportunity to get theater experience.
“I came because I’ve been looking for theater classes for a long time and I couldn’t find any. But then I saw the signs for this and decided to try it,” she said.