Rocking Out and Leaping into Fall with Education @Hartford Stage!

By Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator


This summer, the Hartford Stage Education department proved that rock ‘n roll is truly here to stay with an exciting array of 1950s and 60s themed programs! In a record-breaking year, over 200 students joined us for classes in acting, improv, dialects, musical theatre, movement, Shakespeare, Japanese shadow puppetry, arts and crafts, voice, dance, acting on film, and technical theatre. Our youngest students, the 3- to 5-year-old Day Dreamers, used creative play and ensemble-building techniques to invite their families on a backstage tour of their imaginations. The Children’s Cast students (ages 5 – 8) created their own original plays, which included such creative elements as enchanted crayons, a rock ‘n roll group of kids in detention, and the world famous Imagination Band!

The students of our Youth Ensemble program (for ages 9 – 15) likewise had a whirlwind four weeks, in which they took a variety of elective classes, attended a performance of Finding Neverland on Broadway, and rehearsed and performed two full-scale shows – Bye Bye Birdie: Youth Edition and Oliver T. A particular highlight was getting the opportunity to see a professional production of Bye Bye Birdie at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, where they were invited to sing “The Telephone Hour” along with the cast.

In August, our One-Act Play students (ages 9-15) presented some madcap mayhem with their performances of the 1960’s sci-fi spoofs, Attack of the Pom Pom Zombies and High School Dropouts from Outer Space. Likewise, our younger Bookends students (ages 5 – 8) explored such popular books as the Nate the Great series and Shel Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends, then brought the characters and tales to life onstage.


The cast of the Footloose: The Musical. Photo by The Defining Photo.
The cast of the Footloose: The Musical. Photo by The Defining Photo.

Meanwhile, back downtown, in this summer’s smash hit new program, the 14- to 19-year-old students in our Teen Musical presented Footloose: The Musical live at Hartford Stage. In bringing to life the tale of a troubled teenager from Chicago who struggles to find his way in a conservative small town in Texas, the group of 20 teenagers had the opportunity to prepare in the same dressing rooms and perform on the same stage as some of their theatre idols.

The cast of the Breakdancing Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet.  Photo by The Defining Photo.
The cast of the Breakdancing Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet. Photo by The Defining Photo.

And the halls of the Hartford Stage rehearsal studios were alive with the sounds of hip hop. For the 10th anniversary season of Breakdancing Shakespeare, the program returned to its roots with a production of Romeo and Juliet, which was the first show they presented back in 2006. Breakdancing Shakespeare is part of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Neighborhood Studios program, which links youth with arts organizations that give students hands-on training in a specific artistic discipline and employs them as paid apprentices. Students trained in acting, dance, stage combat, and the interpretation of classical text, in addition to a rigorous rehearsal process for their adaptation of Shakespeare’s most popular play, which saw the warring families’ tragic duels replaced by electrifying breakdancing sequences. Opening Night saw the return of many Breakdancing Shakespeare alums, who joined in the celebration with the completely sold-out, standing-room-only crowd. We look forward to seeing what surprises this wonderful program has in store for the next 10 years!


An exciting lineup of Youth Fall Studio classes is now on sale, featuring everything from improvisation to directing, and from flipped fairy tales to outer space adventures! In Pretend Together, parents take class alongside their 3- or 4-year-old, exploring stories, songs and movement in an introduction to theatrical play. In Musical Theatre Cabaret, Jr., students ages 5-8 will learn to develop characters and express themselves onstage as they rehearse some popular musical theatre hits. Students ages 9-14 will have performance opportunities with the One Act Play workshop, in which they will rehearse and perform a one act play, and the Production Class, where the students will rehearse and perform the hilarious mixed-up fairy tale, The Bluebird Prince. Students ages 12-17 will get the chance to take a seat in the director’s chair with the Directing class. Here, students will learn what it takes to become a strong director – from choosing the right script, to prepping for rehearsals, to putting together the final production.