Bringing the Magic of Theater to Budding Performers via Two Holiday Performances
BERWYN – Performing in front of a crowd is both intimidating and thrilling. Yet many will never know that thrill because breaking into the theater scene is challenging if you don’t start training at a young age.
The team at UMLY Performing Arts Company, part of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, is changing the narrative. Directors, choreographers and performers have been working for months to create two holiday shows that are open to budding young performers without prior training. The Holiday Nutcracker and Dance Spectacular is a traditional dance show and A Christmas Story, The Musical is a musical theater show complete with singing, dancing and acting.
Making Dance More Accessible
“Our Nutcracker production at the Upper Main Line YMCA first began five years ago,” explains Dance Director Claire Jones. “Our goal was to introduce the holiday dance classic to all children – even those who aren’t trained in dance. We want them to experience the magic of dance during the holiday season.”
The UMLY Performing Arts Company’s production of The Holiday Nutcracker is open to dancers and non-dancers between ages three and 18. Dancers practice for ten weeks in a dance studio on the campus of the Upper Main Line YMCA before performing for family and friends on December 18. This year, their final performance will take place at Roswitt Theater on the campus of Rosemont College.
“We are excited for our dancers to experience such a beautiful performance space,” says Jones. “We want our dancers to enjoy the full performance experience and know that Roswitt Theater will take our experience to a new level for our dancers.”
Prior to their debut at Roswitt Theater, UMLY Performing Arts Company dancers will preview The Holiday Nutcracker on Saturday, December 3 at Daylesford Crossing Assisted Living Community. This is another way that UMLY Performing Arts Company is making the joy of holiday dance accessible to all, dancers and audiences alike.
Making Musical Theater More Accessible
The team at UMLY Performing Arts Company is working double-time this weekend. Their performance of A Christmas Story, The Musical debuted at Valley Forge Middle School on December 1 and runs through December 3. Like the Holiday Nutcracker, the cast of A Christmas Story, The Musical includes an array of experience levels.
“We are proud that our production includes performers from ages 5 to 65,” explains Jess Severns, Theater Coordinator at the Upper Main Line Y and Director of A Christmas Story, The Musical. “For some of our performers, ours will be their very first show. We love to see first-time performers connect with the stage – and the audience!”
Not only do UMLY performers connect with a love of theater, they also connect with each other. “There are several pairs of siblings and a parent/child duo in our cast. And by the end of the show, we all feel like family,” explains Severns. “It is fitting because A Christmas Story, The Musical is a show with a lot of love and a lot of heart. If you come to our show, you will get a warm, festive feeling as you watch this classic unfold on stage.”
Severns joined the team at UMLY Performing Arts Company this past summer to work alongside Janelle Brandberg, Senior Director of Youth Programming at the Upper Main Line YMCA. Brandberg has directed all shows at UMLY for the past eight years and is serving as producer and choreographer for A Christmas Story, The Musical. She is excited to see the team growing at UMLY Performing Arts Company so that theater and dance can continue to reach more performers and audiences.
Get Involved with UMLY Performing Arts
If you are looking for a dose of family-friendly holiday nostalgia, tickets for A Christmas Story, The Musical are on sale now. The run time is 90 minutes and there is one intermission. Look for iconic moments such as the leg lamp and the pink bunny suit, along with some new twists like a kick line that evokes the Rockettes.
And, if you’d like to try your hand – or feet or voice – in an upcoming UMLY Performing Arts production, registration is open now for Newsies Jr. (ages 9-18) and Peter Pan Jr. (ages 6-10).
Learn more about the UMLY Performing Arts Company.