Beaufort Children's Theatre: A fun experience for local kids

    By Libby Ricardo | As rehearsals for Shakespeare Rep’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream go into full swing and my husband, George Pate, begins the rehearsal process for his Beaufort Theatre Company directorial debut, Blithe Spirit, I cannot help but ponder the immense importance theater has played in our lives.

    My husband and I both have advanced terminal degrees in the field, and yet, it is very easy to place the roots of our passion. I remember attending my first All Children’s Theatre event in Providence, Rhode Island and knowing I had found a safe place to explore and grow. George will readily provide the same praise of his childhood theater home, The Spartanburg Youth Theatre.

    Even after almost two decades and countless theater training and teachers, I still stay in touch with my first mentors. Their support is invaluable, even now. What is more, the skills that were taught those many years ago stay with me, and instruct how I behave not only as an actor but as a teacher, friend, wife and active member of my community.

    If your child is interested in performing, I cannot urge you more strongly to consider looking into our own community’s fantastic resource, The Beaufort Children’s Theatre.

    The Beaufort Children’s Theatre, which operates out of the USCB Center for the Arts, offers opportunities for local actors, ages 6 to 18. The company produces two classic musicals a season which are performed for thousands of patrons each year. BCT also offers classes and summer camps for young thespians interested in developing their craft.

    Bonnie Hargrove, Director of the BCT, is certain that that the skills gained at the theater will translate offstage, “The confidence that being on stage gives children is not measurable.” That sentiment is shared by Terry Long, mother of three BCT actors. When asked what her children have gained from their involvement, Terry offered, “so much I do not know where to start. Poise, self-confidence, the ability to work together with a group toward a

    Kids performing in the Beaufort Children's Theater's 2014 production of 'The Rockin' Tale of Snow White'
    Kids performing in the Beaufort Children’s Theater’s 2014 production of ‘The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White’

    common goal, acceptance of others for their differences, consideration, responsibility, independence, respect and supporting others.”

    I should at this point mention that I have had the immense privilege of working with Alex and Tristin Long on Grease the Musical at the Beaufort Theatre Company in the fall and currently on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and not only do they possess all of the aforementioned qualities, but also are remarkably talented and thoughtful about their development as artists. Both were selected as members of the Shakespeare Rep Apprentice Program this season.

    Terry Long’s list is quite telling, however, because she is quick to mention the lessons that translate to all facets of life. Her children, Bridgit, Alex and Tristan Long can take the lessons learned from their time at the Beaufort Children’s Theatre and apply them to any chosen vocation. Terry adds, “I believe being able to get up on stage in front of an audience and feel confident builds a lifetime of self-esteem that cannot be easily reproduced.”

    While I went on to study theatre and pursue acting professionally, other young actors from All Children’s Theatre did not. They instead pursued different passions- law, medicine, communications, and teaching with the same fervor, taking lessons learned from their years on stage and practicing them in their chosen fields. My parents did me the immense favor of supporting my interests and allowing me to explore my own personal idea of playground, the stage. I certainly learned how to play a convincing game of make believe and how to structure my storytelling in a way that

    The Beaufort Children's Theatre put on a wonderful production of My Son Pinocchio, Jr last spring.
    The Beaufort Children’s Theatre put on a wonderful production of My Son Pinocchio, Jr last spring.

    involved not just myself and my playmates but an audience, but perhaps more importantly, I learned how to lead and follow, how to take directions, how to engage analytically and how to be curious.

    Anna Schaffer, local theater practitioner and teacher, adds, “Whether you want to pursue a career in the arts, or just try out for experience, it is definitely a great opportunity to try something new, develop your craft, or have a good time with great people- so go and be a part of something bigger than yourself, and audition for a show!”

    If your child has interest in theater, you need look no further than the Beaufort Children’s Theatre for a positive and fun experience.

    Auditions for the spring musical are almost here.

    On a side note, I would like to thank adults who understand the importance of exposing children to theater, specifically: Bonnie Hargrove, Anna Schaffer, Wrenn Goodrum, MaryLee Delaney, and Mary Nicholson. You help to perpetuate theater as an art form and instill children with much needed confidence and passion. I will never be fully able to articulate my immense thanks. I hope that a new generation of actors will have the same thought years from now.

    If you would like more information about upcoming opportunities with the Beaufort Children’s Theatre, email tgates@uscb.edu.