GREAT is thrilled to be back in-person with arts education opportunities in schools for the first time in two years! Friday was performance day and the kids were fabulous in The Lion King KIDS. After rehearsing Monday through Thursday with three incredible teaching artists, the cast of 46 performed at 9am for their peers and at 6pm for families… and over 250 people packed that gym! One parent said,

This is our first time back in this building in over two years. It’s so good to be back here and see my child do this.

But seeing kids in their element (kids who – a week ago – maybe didn’t even know this was their element) was the most exciting thing of all. Kids who can have trouble focusing in class carried this show. Kids who are known as shy sang solos in front of a crowded room. Kids who struggle with making friends grouped up, grabbed hands, and jumped together chanting “Hakuna Matata, Hakuna Matata!” And the smiles and sheer joy over bird hats and meercat ears is an energy we wish for us all. And the teachers were thrilled too,

The students love the play in a week so much. It is hard work and so much fun! An experience unlike anything they do at school! GREAT Theatre directors are so patient and fun!

Meanwhile, magic was happening in the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre in preparation for two performances of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical! on Saturday for our third annual Youth Artist Project. This project was born out of a goal to provide more opportunities for youth to explore creative roles in theatre beyond acting, as well as an expressed need from our community for opportunities to introduce preschools (and younger) to the joy of theatre. High school students applied and interviewed for their positions on the production team and were partnered with professional theatre artists who mentored them as they brought the show to life.

There is something truly special seeing a room full of our youngest audiences fully engaged and experiencing live theatre, many for the first time, with a show that is 100% youth directed, designed, and performed. One youth artist shared,

I learned that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Another said that the Youth Artist Project allowed them to,

learn an entirely new thing that seemed scary to me originally.

The trifecta in GREAT education in the past several weeks has been camp registration opening! After a year of pared-back offerings, we are thrilled to return to in-person camps with new themes and stories while keeping the smaller class sizes and focus on the joy that live theatre brings. And based on the first week of registration, so is our community! In fact, during the residency at Westwood, a family shared with us that they signed their child up for every musical camp offering this summer, because this fifth grader said that theatre camp is the most important part of her summer! Thanks to your support, over $17,000 has been given away in scholarships so far as part of our pick-your-price registration, ensuring that every student has access to the transformative power of theatre camp.

Thank you. Theatre matters. It transforms, Thank YOU for being an arts advocate in our community, and making GREAT education happen. And thank you for sharing in the this joy with us!