After-school drama program performs Saturday |

After-school drama program performs Saturday

Totally Amazing Drama Adventure teaches children acting, self-confidence

Margaret Hair
Students in South Routt participate in Totally Amazing Drama Adventure, a semester-long children's theater program. The group is putting on "Wooing Wed Widing Hood" at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Melinda Dudley

South Routt fifth-grader Joseph Frausto makes an excellent – though vegetarian – fairytale wolf.

Crouching on the edge of the stage at Soroco Middle School, Joseph showed off his scary wolf face and quickly followed it with his charming prince face, thus demonstrating the two characters he’ll play in “Wooing Wed Widing Hood,” a Totally Amazing Drama Adventure production.

“I like this because you can wear costumes, and I like to act because I’m funny,” Joseph said, describing his first experience with TADA, a semester-long South Routt children’s theater program. The group performs “Wooing Wed” at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Soroco Middle School auditorium.

Joseph is a ham, and he knows it: “I should have been a clown,” he said, mugging and shooting claws out of his hand-sewn wolf cloak. TADA gives him a chance to perform on stage, instead of in class.

Bea Bograd started the after-school drama program three years ago as a way to spread her love of theater to students who might not be exposed to it.

“What’s very important to me about this program is that there are no auditions. Anybody can do it,” Bograd said. TADA meets after school once a week, and covers basic acting skills as students work toward putting on a play at the end of the semester.

“It won’t necessarily be the very best theater piece ever seen, but it’s a huge achievement for these kids,” Bograd said. “Some of these kids that might not be the best at sports or school, this is really their outlet to shine.”

Fifth-grader Ashlee Gingrich has been performing with TADA since its first production. When she started the program, Ashlee said she was shy and didn’t speak up much. That’s no longer a problem.

“I get nervous when I’m just myself, but when I’m acting, I feel like a different person,” she said.

Bograd picks a different area of theater to focus on with each production. “Wooing Wed” – a fairy tale mash-up that follows the basic plot of its namesake – requires each actor to play at least two different parts and develop separate characters for each role.

Fourth-grader Steven Demaio said he enjoys the chance to act with his friends, and to act outside of himself.

“We don’t have to be who we really are,” he said. “I don’t have to be Steven all the time.”

TADA teaches students the basics of acting and performing, but it also provides the kind of self-confidence that comes from putting yourself into a character, Bograd said. In this semester’s class of 12 students in fourth through sixth grades, six had participated in the program before. Some of those students hung back in early rehearsals, Bograd said. But with just a week remaining before their performance, all the TADA participants were beaming about theater.

“The goal is not to create Oscar winners. The goal is to give kids an outlet – every kid. Every kid is talented,” Bograd said.

The program’s $40 registration fee gives access to theater to children who might not have had that chance anywhere else.

Bograd doesn’t expect TADA to turn her students into professional actors – but she does expect it to build character, and to bring theater to as many people as possible.

“I don’t anticipate most of them to do this forever and ever,” she said. “When they get to middle school, especially for the boys, sports will take over. But this is something they’ll always have. They can take this with them forever and ever.”

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