These kids love being onstage
TADA! Youth Theater in New York offers kids an opportunity to learn what a theatrical career is all about.
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"Here, I can take classes; I can be in shows. It's much easier," he says after a pause, "than stressing out about what to do with myself."Skip to next paragraph
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In "Everything About a Day (Almost)," Merce has a ferociously funny scene about really longing – ineffectively, it turns out – for a predinner snack: On cue, 10 TADA! Ensemble members, dressed as moms, burst onstage, performing a jazzy tune called "You'll Ruin Your Appetite."
Merce dances around them, dashing underneath their aprons and sprinting toward the plate of brownies.
Eventually, the moms surround him, and he cowers on the ground, singing through his frustration.
"I think a lot of kids can relate, actually," Merce says with a laugh, sitting in the empty theater after a recent performance. "I know a lot people who can't eat before dinner." ("I'm not one of those people," he later confesses. "I eat all the time.")
Providing a point of identification, of course, is what "Everything About a Day (Almost)" does best. The show follows the everyday existence of an average American kid, from breakfast to the classroom to recess to a night spent shivering under the blankets, waiting for scary monsters to burst out of the closet.
Conceived by a TADA! alumnus, Emmanuel Wilson, "Everything About a Day (Almost)" lets the youthful audience know "that could be me up there, that could be my day," says Ms. Trevens. "Those are the things that make me nervous or make me happy."
The best parts of the show combine elements of tap-dancing, choreography, and singing.
In the skit on "Useless Information," for instance, a handful of kids trapped in a classroom wonder, "Will we use this in real life?"
They carefully list their grievances: subjects and predicates; the Pythagorean theorem; the Dred Scott decision.
"All this stuff is so demanding," runs one refrain. "I can feel my brain expanding." Which is the point of the scene, really: Even seemingly useless information helps us learn faster.
"It gets to the point that you've sung so much" in all these performances, "that you [feel you] can't sing anymore," says Sophie Silverstein, 12, of Manhattan. "But you know there are going to be people in the theater watching, and you want them to understand how great it can be. Hopefully they go home and sing and dance about the stuff they do all the time."
Ms. Trevens says that after a performance, kids in the audience often inquire about joining the ensemble. And she tells them: All it takes is an audition.
"Some kids have a feeling inside: If I could only play this sport or that musical instrument," she adds. "For these guys, it's being on stage. It thrills them."