The Musical Theatre of Anthem’s fall slate of classes will focus on acting, improv, audition techniques, film study and juggling.
“We do it because we want the kids to be well rounded, we want them to be able to act, dance — do all of it,” said Sierra Litman, production manager and director of educational programming for the theater.
“A lot of times when (the kids) start doing classes that are in these different areas of theater, that kind of peaks their interest, and it really gets them engaged and learning constantly about different things. So, it’s really fun.”
Founded by Jackie Hammond, MTA is heading into its 14th season and has been teaching kids about theater since 2008. Hammond has worked in the field for more than 30 years, both on and off the stage. It was always a dream for her to open her own theater, but with MTA she is a lot more than just a business owner.
“Our mission is to develop youth and adults within the field of performing arts while enhancing their intrinsic creativity and brokering their best talents,” Hammond said.
“At MTA, we train and educate youth so they can become the artists, patrons and leaders of tomorrow, while providing opportunities to adults to empower them and foster their creativity.”
The theater does that by putting on performances and offering seasonal classes. This fall, classes will start Aug. 16 and run for about 10 weeks. Kids can register for the entire course or walk in as they please for $10. The theater has something for everyone, regardless of age or experience level.
“We have kids that it’s their very first time participating or kids who have been in 50 productions,” Hammond said. “What’s neat about the classes is there’s a lot of drop-in options, so they can try a class, see if they like it. If they don’t like it, they can try another class.”
Litman said their most popular class was the improv games class because nothing is scripted, and the kids really get to use their imagination. She said that class has “a lot of laughs.”
Besides teaching different aspects of theater, Litman and Hammond said what kids take away from the classes can apply in everyday, real-world situations.
“A lot of different aspects of acting help translate to when you have to get up and give a speech in front of the class, when you have to interact with a team, if you’re on a group project at school, when you need to do a job interview, when you need to talk on the phone, these are things that you actually have to learn and practice sometimes,” Hammond said.
One student, whom she identified as McKenna, was so afraid during her first audition at age 6 that she held onto her mom’s leg and barely spoke. Now she’s a leader and spokesperson of the theater’s outreach group, which performs around the Valley. She’s also been in more than 30 MTA shows. Hammond said that’s just one of hundreds of examples of kids who have grown and come “out of their shell.”
This year is also the first time that MTA is doing a class specifically for homeschooled children. Litman said they wanted to provide a general overview of theater such as history and styles to serve as an art curriculum for kids learning from home.
MTA is a nonprofit organization, and any class fees go directly back into the organization for future classes or productions. There are scholarships available for kids who want to participate and need financial assistance. The only thing required is a paragraph about why they want the award and their financial situation. The request can be submitted through MTA’s website at musicaltheatreofanthem.org.
There are also a few summer performances for those looking to stay involved outside the school year. Performances for “101 Dalmations” are Friday, July 16, and Saturday, July 17.
Auditions for “Singin’ in the Rain Jr.” are Sunday, July 18, with performances on Thursday, July 29, to Sunday, July 31.
Mini classes are available for 3 to 5 year olds from 3:30 to 5 p.m on Monday, July 19, to Friday, July 23. A performance is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 23. Everyone who auditions for MTA is cast.
“There’s always room for people at MTA. We welcome everyone and just look forward to offering everything we can possibly offer to the community,” Hammond said.