Audiences seem to agree that ACT of CT has been making good on its promise to “bring Broadway to Ridgefield.” What may be less well-known is that ACT of CT has also been busy building a robust theater education department, fulfilling another important aspect of its mission, to train the next generation of theatrical artists. ACT of CT has run a variety of masterclasses, private lessons, a youth choir, summer camps, and teen productions. This fall, the theater will launch a “Pop-Up Choir,” which will send young, aspiring theater students to sing at special events with community partners.
ACT of CT also emphasizes the crucial first step in fostering a love of theater for new students and audiences: exposure. As Daniel C. Levine, ACT of CT’s Artistic Director, notes, “Every performer, member of the creative team, or backstage technician, started in the audience at some point!” This spring, ACT of CT partnered with Ridgefield Public Schools to host a 5th grade field trip to its production of The Secret Garden. Additionally, ACT of CT’s First ACT! program, along with supporting needs-based scholarships, also invites students and adults from traditionally underserved schools and communities to mainstage performances, free of charge, through its Audience Access Initiative. This program has already distributed over 100 tickets to six mainstage performances, hosting groups from over ten different organizations from many surrounding communities.
Heather Hillman, ACT of CT’s Director of Education and Outreach, says, “There is growing recognition of the benefits of exposure to theater, not just for aspiring performers, but for everyone. It fosters creativity across disciplines, has been linked with academic achievement, and has even been called an ‘empathy playground.’ We are making it a priority, through our First ACT! program, to help ensure that students of all backgrounds are able to avail themselves of these benefits.” •