Let Us Entertain You

WOW! Fabulous! Exciting! What are we talking about? The Naples Payers KidzAct program at the Sugden Community Theatre. This children’s educational program began as an initiative by former TNP executive director, Jim Rideoutte and present executive director, John Sorey in 2002 with 30 children. Today the year-round program has more than 500 children enrolled, ages 4 to18. The philosophy “no child left behind” provides every child the opportunity to participate due to scholarships that are available. More than $30,000 in scholarships are provided each year.

Next year’s gala, Let Us Entertain You, will be held on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. A very special auction item created by William Boasian, Port Royal Jewelers, will provide funding for KidzAct scholarships.

Boyajian has been extremely supportive of the KidzAct program for several years. Over $60,000 can be attributed to the auction of his jewelry.

Boyajian stated he started this project several months ago but wanted to include the thoughts and dreams of KidzAct children in the process. This diamond and 18k gold pair of earrings are frosted with gem quality diamonds cut in exacting proportions and quality. The selection for the earrings will consist of several fancy shaped diamonds in an architectural star shape with rounded soft corners. It is constructed to move freely on the wearer’s ears and will have removable star dangles.

The initial design was inspired by the young actors who were asked to create images and conceptualized designs, as well as personal ideas as to what it means to them to be a part of a local community theatre children’s program.

Boyajian stated, “I believe children’s programs, like KidzAct, are a great experience and a real opportunity to see what is involved in theater for children with talent in Naples…. I understand the importance of making all of the arts programs available to influence our culture and hopefully they will be able to give back to the next generation.

“The KidzAct program provides opportunities for young people to “spread their wings,” and develop confidence, team spirit and leadership qualities. Studies have shown that children involved in the arts – visual or performing – make better grades and are leaders in their schools.

Additionally, it provides them with an appreciation for the arts well into their adult years. They are our patrons of the future.

Craig Price, education director, has made significant advances in the KidzAct program in the last year. Price has an extensive background in young people’s participation in the theatrical arts. He began his association with The Naples Players several years ago as an actor and teacher. Fortunately, he has returned to the theatre with several new programs for KidzAct. He has developed ACT! Teen Conservatory, Acting and Improv for ASD &SPD and Improv for Performance in addition to regular performing arts programs. According to Price, the KidzAct program has the full cooperation of all staff; scene design and production, costume design, lighting, sound and all other departments that contribute to a full-fledged production.

ACT! Teen Conservatory class is for 13 – 18-year old’s. It is a new curriculum-based program designed for middle and high school students taught by staff and guest artists. Small class sizes allow for personalized and professional instruction for each student. Along with performance classes, the students receive backstage access to learn about the technical elements of theatre, behind-the-scenes working with professionals in the fields of scene design, costume design, lighting, sound and all other technical aspects. There is intensive work in singing, dancing and acting. This is an effort to move these young people to the next level. It also focuses on developing their college resumes by building their background experiences. This program teaches them how to audition for theatrical programs in college, whether on stage or behind the scenes. This is an area that Price would like to double the program in the future.

Price and staff also felt the theatre needed to serve all of the community and so the Acting and Improv for ASD & SPD for ages 4+ was introduced. The program is in partnership with FTDD and Trailblazers (adults with disabilities). Primarily focused on autism, it is inclusive for children with other disabilities. It specializes in verbal and nonverbal disabilities, as well as sensory processing difficulties. “We focus on providing the children with the necessary tools for learning. A positive result of the program has been one young person, who has moved from the ASD program to a main stage production. The teacher has integrated this young person into a regular production. Additionally, shows are provided for children that need less light and less sound. Special performances are scheduled for these children and parents. “We would like to have multiple levels in the ASD classes to be able to have more people involved and to include other disabilities, to include physical disabilities,” responded Price.

Mike Santos is excellent as a teacher for Improv for Performance classes. An outlet for kids that are not singers and dancers, the class includes musical improv, long form scene work, and short form games. It is a fast-paced, action-packed and fun filled opportunity to perform in a showcase performance at the end of the session.

Price stated, “Parents feel the program is incredibly important in developing self-confidence. Many of these children may not have exposure to the arts in school or involved in sports and the comradery in team building that you receive with sports.

They are immediately put on a team other kids and teambuilding skills develop. Because of the fundraising for KidzAct, we are able to provide an exceptional experience. The scholarships are very important for families that have several children enrolled and are able to participate because of scholarships.

“In summation, Price stated, “If it were not for the KidzAct program, many of these families would not be in Naples. They have found a home at The Naples Players in the productions or as a volunteer. Without the theatre, they would go somewhere else. This is their home now. “

During the gala we will have several KidzAct performances.

“This is their opportunity to “shine” and show the audience what they can do. They are amazing! It will be a Gala you do not want to miss,” concluded Price.

If you are interested, please contact soreysan@aol.com or 239.248.8059

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