For most 8 to 13 year-olds, “foley” is a word that they likely cannot define.
But for Open Stage of Harrisburg’s OSHKids Performance Co., it’s a part of their daily vocabulary. The students in the company become animals, clocks, falling rabbits and just about anything their imaginations can muster.
The company now is preparing for its annual play, and this year’s production is “Alice in Wonderland,” running May 17 to 20. Like the theater’s mainstage productions, the play focuses on opening the minds of both the actors and the audience. Full-sized puppets, an on-stage foley station, and colorful moving props enable students to maneuver their way through Wonderland as both actor and technician.
“The foley art and the different styles that we’re going to be using, like the shadow puppetry, are what I enjoy most about the play,” said Fletcher Smith, who is in his first year as an OSHKid. “We also have an awesome director who is very energetic.”
Hanniel Sindelar, Open Stage’s resident costume shop manager/designer, is leading the class as they explore telling the classic children’s tale. With a background in devised theater, variety performance and cheap art, Sindelar strives to expand the imaginations of these creative students.
“The focus of our program is on ‘telling the story’ and how we can best empower our students to do that,” Sindelar said. “For me, that means emphasis on collaboration between the entire ensemble, being supportive of each other, and staying focused on the big picture.”
The OSHKids retelling of Lewis Carroll’s beloved story features a script by Rachel and Stuart Landon and is being collaboratively designed with Harrisburg’s Stephen Michael Haas.
“It’s magical to see what the students are capable of,” said Sindelar. “I hope they never forget what is possible when you align your energy with others to change a current in the world, on stage or off.”
The OSHKids Performance Co. meets in the fall to study acting technique, improvisational skills and working as a team. In the spring, the focus switches to the company’s annual play. Open to students aged 8 to 13, OSHKids provides benefits beyond learning theater technique.
Summer Morris, in her fifth year of the program, said she loves everything about OSHKids and has learned a lot from her years in the program. Her father agrees.
“The first time I saw her in a lead, singing confidently, it was amazing,” said Dan Morris, noting that he’s seen Summer grow through her participation with the company.
In addition to building confidence, OSHKids teaches the value of being in an ensemble.
“Everyone has a part in the performance even if you’re not the main character,” said Anna Williams, who is in her fourth year with the company.
Working as a team will be the focus of the OSHKids summer program, “Seussical KIDS.” Open to students ages 8 to 12, the program runs for three weeks in June and culminates in a public performance. The program will explore character building, teamwork, scene study and design.
For older students, ages 12 to 18, Musical Theatre Workshop (MTW) runs for three weeks in July and culminates in a showcase. MTW is an intensive, three-week program in acting, singing and movement, focusing on the repertoire of classic and contemporary musical theater. The workshop includes a field trip to New York City, a ticket to a Broadway show and an audition workshop with professional actors.
Smith, who participated in MTW last year, plans on doing the same this year. He also intends to enroll in 180Prep, Open Stage’s class for 14 to 18 year-olds, in the fall.
“The program is a lot of fun, and you’ll make a lot of new friends,” Smith said. “It’s an amazing program, and I hope kids in the area get to do it.”
Tickets for “Alice in Wonderland” are currently available for purchase. Auditions are required for both “Seussical KIDS” and MTW. More information on the summer programs and purchasing tickets is available at www.openstagehbg.com.
UPCOMING THEATER EVENTS
AT HARRISBURG’S PROFESSIONAL
At Gamut Theatre
The Popcorn Hat Players Present:
“The Little Mermaid”
May 2 to 19
Saturdays at 1 p.m.
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. available by request for groups of 20 or more.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased online at gamuttheatre.org or at the door.
At Open Stage of Harrisburg
“Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties”
April 27 to May 6
Five different women named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the “thea-tah.”
“Alice in Wonderland”
May 16 to 20
Lewis Carroll’s classic story reimagined by the OSHkids Performance Company
Auditions for Seussical Kids Summer Camp
May 26, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Registration for kids 8 to 12 are open at www.openstagehbg.com/seussical. Call the box office at 717-232-6736 for more information.