Children’s Theater in Rochester: Page 2
by Carol White Llewellyn
“We read tons of scripts!” exclaimed Freyda, explaining that they look for a cross-section of the best plays to stage a season that includes fairy tales, bed time stories, plays based on more traditional or classic literature as well as contemporary works such as Skippyjon Jones. They look to supplement and enrich school curriculum.
“When we’re choosing plays, we think a lot about how it’ll translate to the stage,” she explained.
In an unprecedented move, TYKES sent out a survey this past year polling their subscribers and school groups as to what programming they’d like to see for the upcoming season, with Willy Wonka capturing first place. That strategy helped identify top favorites their patrons wanted to see and resulted in a robust season.
One of the early works performed by the group was an original play written by Freyda and Gina called “The Sharing Stone,” based on the Stone Soup fable. That show toured for a number of years, but now the company does less touring. TYKES makes its home in the 288 seat Hart Theater at the JCC of Greater Rochester, so there’s always an intimate feel to the productions. This is important to the two founders.
“We want the experience to be warm, loving and nurturing and for the children to have an opportunity to interact with the show and the characters,” Freyda shared, talking about how the actors – mostly adult professionals, but occasionally children - use the entire theater, including the audience aisles, as their stage. Following the shows, the Meet & Greet session offers children a chance to talk to and ask questions of the actors or the characters they play.
TYKES performances are held on weekends for the general public and on weekdays at 10 a.m. for school groups. They strive to make performances accessible to all children, regardless of ability to pay. Each year, the non-profit donates tickets to deserving organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Head Start, Melissa’s Living Legacy and many others. Donations to TYKEs help underwrite the cost of donated tickets.
In general, TYKES programming is aimed at kids age 3 and up, but Freyda went on to say,“When people ask what age our shows are for, I tell them that if their child can stay engaged through a full PBS Children’s show, they’re ready for TYKES.”
And TYKES is ready to share the magic of live theater with them.
To see the season’s lineup for TYKES, visit www.tykestheatre.org.
Rochester Children’s Theatre
“I was so lucky to be able to work as a professional actress right out of college,” shared Deborah Haber, Rochester Children’s Theater Artistic Producing Director. That first job, working with Tic Toc Players, gave her a taste for children’s theater.