Dreamland’s Theater for Kids -August 2015

The Happiest Place in the World

by: Mollie O'Leary

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

The Educational Children’s Theater programming at the Dreamland is heading into its sixth summer, offering yearround and seasonal residents an opportunity to uniquely experience and participate in the performing arts. Tiffany Gallo, the program manager, summarizes the programming’s philosophy as one that uses the arts to give students a place at the Dreamland where they can express themselves creatively in a safe and nurturing environment.

Melissa Murphy, executive director of the Dreamland, stresses the positive impact of these programs on children.

“Arts education, particularly in theater, gives exposure that is essential for kids to be well-rounded,” Murphy said.

The Dreamland’s programs are fun and exciting, but beyond that, they also seem to promote important developmental processes in kids, Murphy suggested.

“The entire group collection of programs that we offer really provides the opportunity for students to strengthen skills in literacy, communication, critical thinking, empathy and self-confidence.”

On a more personal note, Murphy said her daughter has met many new friends through her involvement in the programs.

“In the summertime, we have about an even split in

participation between seasonal residents and year-round residents, which creates this wonderful opportunity for the kids to have a new way to engage, she said.”

This diverse demographic is a great way to facilitate intercommunication and growth in all the students involved, Murphy said.

The summer programming is separated into three groups: young actors, the junior company, and the senior company, all catering to different age groups and levels of commitment. The young actors program, The Educational Children’s Theater programming at the Dreamland is heading into its sixth summer, offering yearround and seasonal residents an opportunity to uniquely experience and participate in the performing arts. Tiffany Gallo, the program manager, summarizes the programming’s philosophy as one that uses the arts to give students a place at the Dreamland where they can express themselves creatively in a safe and nurturing environment.

Melissa Murphy, executive director of the Dreamland, stresses the positive impact of these programs on children.

“Arts education, particularly in theater, gives exposure that is essential for kids to be well-rounded,” Murphy said.

The Dreamland’s programs are fun and exciting, but beyond that, they also seem to promote important developmental processes in kids, Murphy suggested.

“The entire group collection of programs that we offer really provides the opportunity for students to strengthen skills in literacy, communication, critical thinking, empathy and self-confidence.”

On a more personal note, Murphy said her daughter has met many new friends through her involvement in the programs.

“In the summertime, we have about an even split in participation between seasonal residents and year-round residents, which creates this wonderful opportunity for the kids to have a new way to engage, she said.”

This diverse demographic is a great way to facilitate intercommunication and growth in all the students involved, Murphy said.

The summer programming is separated into three groups: young actors, the junior company, and the senior company, all catering to different age groups and levels of commitment. The young actors program, The Bierly sisters have also become adept at confronting the challenges that come with putting on a show. For last summer’s musical “Seussical, Jr.,” Tess had her first lead role as JoJo, and she had to quickly adjust to the increase in responsibility. Despite the high demand, Tess still found her role fun.

“JoJo had a big imagination like me,” she said.

In their roles, Alyse and Kira had to master intimidating and unfamiliar techniques. Kira had to learn new dancing moves, and Alyse had to adopt the Broadway “belt” style of singing, very different from the opera singing she had previously been taught.

“Seussical, Jr.” was directed by Jimmy Calitri who, according to the girls, had the unique skill of making each student’s role feel important. Boasberg said Calitri “works absolute magic” and “makes each one feel like a star.”

Boasberg said that her daughters hop and skip going off to rehearsal. Alyse reinforced this image, asserting that the Dreamland is “the happiest place in the world.” These girls have watched this program grow from being housed in an unassuming tent on the site of the old theater, which had been demolished, to the premier theatrical experience that it is today, Boasberg said.

Kira and Alyse Bierly will be graduating into the senior company after this summer, which is designed for teenagers age 14-19 who have aged out of the prior theater programs.

“What I love about this program is that in 2.5 to three weeks we put together a showcase that presents the best of each of their individual talents, Gallo said.” The senior company is usually comprised of a small group, meaning that the shows have the capacity to highlight each of the actors’ strong points. This year the senior company is doing a dynamic and exciting show called “Showstoppers: The Show Must Go On.”

Although the Dreamland programs are young, the future is filled with promise. The senior company has included talents such as Skyler Wright, who recently acted in a feature film with John Travolta.

Johannah Johnson, another longtime student in the Dreamland programs, plans to pursue acting in college and to move to New York to become a professional actress or singer. Johnson said she has learned so much during her time at the Dreamland and that the whole crew gives so much advice and leadership.

Dedication to the Dreamland Theater’s summer programming clearly runs deep in both the students and staff.

“It means the world to me to be able to share my passion with all of our amazing students, both those currently enrolled and those I have yet to meet,” Gallo said.

Mollie O’Leary is a sophomore at Kenyon College, and editorial assistant for The Inquirer and Mirror this summer.






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