Whether they’re on the stage or in the audience, elementary school-aged children can enjoy a taste of local theater at Edmond Fine Arts Institute’s (EFAI) production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Kelli Cormack, a University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) musical theater student, directs the Junior Theatre production. Cormack has experience with UCO’s Broadway Tonight series and has directed prior EFAI productions.
“Kelli does our spring production,” said EFAI executive director Shannon Price. “She’s pretty fabulous.”
Price said several factors shape EFAI’s choice of Junior Theatre plays, including a sensitivity to local arts opportunities for younger children and a focus on maximum inclusion for the cast.
“We like bigger productions so we can have as many kids … as possible,” Price said.
EFAI also held an audition workshop in December to help familiarize young children with the process.
Price, a former elementary art teacher, said middle school and high school students in the Edmond area enjoy a greater number of opportunities for dramatic expression than do younger students.
“We target this particular program to second grade through eighth-graders for auditions,” Price said. “They don’t have as many performance opportunities or venues.”
Price said that children who participate in arts programs develop collaborative skills, focus and memory and practice commitment.
“There’s a whole lot to be said about having pride in your work and doing things together,” Price said of the program’s benefits.
While EFAI’s Junior Theatre program helps young children develop acting and performance skills, Price said the institute also hopes to increase early exposure to the arts, which can, in turn, foster a lifelong love.
“I think it’s really important to get kids engaged at a young age,” she said.
EFAI’s production run-time is also keyed to its audience’s attention span. Price said Charlie runs 45 minutes to an hour to accommodate younger children and families.
“When we pick a play, we want something that is not just for the actors, but for the audience,” Price said. “This isn’t just a show that parents and family members come and watch their kids in. We want the community, 3-year-olds and up, to come to a performance.”
Visual arts teachers at EFAI work alongside the director to create backdrops and props. Volunteers and parents also help with the production, and a teen group helps with makeup.
As it enters its 32nd year as a nonprofit arts organization, EFAI continues its mission of providing opportunities for both children and adults in the realms of visual and performing arts, Price said.
Along with funding from Oklahoma Arts Council and Kirkpatrick Bank, Price said EFAI receives help from volunteers.
“We do two major productions a year: one in the spring, and one in the fall,” Price said.
EFAI also hosts summer camps.
“We don’t think every kid is going to grow up and be a visual artist or a performing artist,” Price said, “but once you try it, you can really have an appreciation for it as you grow into adulthood.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs Feb. 24-26 at EFAI, 27 E. Edwards St., in Edmond.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
7 p.m. Feb. 24, 3 p.m. Feb. 25 and 2 p.m. Feb. 26
Edmond Fine Arts Institute
27 E. Edwards St., Edmond
Print Headline: Early expression, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory unwraps its timeless tale in Edmond.