By Susan Gale
The Greenwich Odeum is a true community theater offering kids the opportunity for real theater experiences, complete with on-stage shows at the end of their programs.
The Odeum is a grand performance space with a backstage area where the walls are filled by drawings and comments from past performers. Pretty much every seat in the house is a good one because of its size and sight lines.
Offering several camps throughout the year, the Odeum brings all aspects of the theater to kids from learning lines to singing to prop building. Their programs work for kids with theater experience and those without.
Each summer, the Odeum partners with Experiments in Theater, a camp overseen by Valarie Remillard. During this camp, 36 children, ages 7-16, learn all the parts of putting together a real show from what to do in an audition to the final performance in the 410-seat theater.
“What makes the Odeum programs special is that the kids get a historic theater all to themselves! For a kid who loves theater, there is no better playground than this,” said Remillard.
They even have educational presentations, such as the history of theater, so kids get a well-rounded experience. This past summer the camp finished with two performances of the Broadway musical, 42nd Street.
“It’s very informative for the kids. They learn a lot and it’s fun. So many kids are so talented,” said Amanda Ronchi, General Manager of the Odeum. “We’re a community theater and a great space to learn.”
New program happening Fall 2019
New this year, and a program they hope to continue, are after school Youth Theater Classes. These will run for four Tuesdays starting October 1, 2019. There will be two classes – one for ages 7-10 and the other for ages 11+.
Called Performing Your Story, the 12 students will develop monologues from their own lives and perform them for family and friends in a performance where the audience is seated right on the stage. The Odeum hopes to run the class again in November. It will be run by Experiments in Theater.
“My hope for every child who participants in my programs is that they enjoy the process of working hard and collaborating on a shared challenge and that they are able to walk away from a class or a production feeling like, ‘Wow! That was a lot of work, but it was so much fun!’,” said Remillard.
In addition, the Odeum does a one-day theater camp on Black Friday. The theme for 2019 will be announced soon. Keep an eye on Kidoinfo.com and the Greenwich Odeum for details when they are released.
Beyond Theater Camps: Shows and movies
The Odeum offers many performances that are great for families in addition to their theater camps. One of the most fun are showing movies where characters from the movie join in and they do sing-a-longs if the movie is a musical. The characters are provided by Rochelle Weinrauch from Simply Enchanted, Fairy Tale Entertainment.
General Manager Ronchi said some children are so excited by the characters that they end up crying tears of joy.
Here is a look at upcoming shows for both families and adults.
Family shows in 2019:
- October 26: Halloween Spooktacular: Monsters Inc. Come in costume!
- November 17: The Flying Karamazov Brothers with a crazy comedy, music, and juggling show – one in the afternoon and the other in the evening.
- December 20: The masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life will be shown.
- December 21: See this favorite on the big screen: Polar Express.
Adult shows in 2019:
- September 27: Don Felder – formerly of The Eagles
- October 26: Halloween Spooktacular – An American Werewolf in London
- November 1: The Big Lebowski with a performance by the Geo Trio Band
- November 2: The Smithereens
- November 7: Tiffany
The adult’s shows list is just a portion of what the Odeum will offer this fall. As a part of their partnership with Rhode Island Monthly, the Odeum also offers a classic movie series where Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of Rhode Island Film and Television Office, provides a 5-10-minute speech about the movie’s history.
Susan Gale is CEO of Gale Force Communications, which publishes Kidoinfo.com.