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Curtains goes up on children's theater

Rosemount High School has a strong theater program. Other than that, though, there are limited opportunities for young people in town to get involved in theater. That’s something the Rosemount Area Arts Council has long looked at solving.

Starting in January, RAAC will launch an initiative to bring children’s theater to Rosemount. The Backyard Bunch Children’s Theater program will offer classes to children from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Program director Amy Kamarainen said they will start off the Backyard Bunch providing education about theater and all it entails. The classes offered will be Speech Wars, Stage Management, Improv Challenge, Steal the Scene, Everybody Improvs and Performance Puzzle.

Kamarainen said the small evening classes will allow kids the opportunity to explore the world of theater including acting, set design, stage management and more.

“We have some unique and different classes that I hope will be fun,” said Kamarainen.

The classes are just the beginning. This summer, the Backyard Bunch will offer summer camps. Combined, the classes and camps will lead to the Backyard Bunch Children’s Theater first production next fall.

The Backyard Bunch follows the creation of the Front Porch Community Theater, which will offer theater opportunities to adults.

RAAC chair Jeanne Schwartz said she’s thrilled the group can bring theater opportunities to the community. She said the last time Rosemount had a community theater group was in the 1960s.

“It’s so exciting,” said Schwartz.

Community theater brings more to a community than just entertainment. Kamarainen said children’s theater can enhance reading skills, self-confidence, focus and communication skills.

“The benefits are so great for kids that age,” said Kamarainen.

Going forward, Kamarainen said the ability to be creative and solve problems will be an important skill. Theater provides ways to use those skills, she said.

There are benefits for adults as well, including improved brain function, added social connections and improved memory.

Bringing years of experience to the position, Kamarainen said she aims to provide broad experiences in theater to children participating in the Backyard Bunch. Kamarainen owned the Young Actors Theater Company, an after-school program for kids in Eagan.

Backyard Bunch classes start Jan. 13. Register at Kamarainen encouraged people to sign up by Dec. 31. Those who do will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win free registration for summer camp.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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