Local theatre plays key role in children’s well being

Snow White (Audrey Martin) and the seven dwarfs (Noah Melban, Lilly Montejano, Addison Aslup, Serenity Hache, Desmond Wiesenborn, Eleora Odell and Gracie Oliveria), who were all in the Enchanted Playhouse Co.'s production of “What Happened After Once Upon a Time” in 2023.(Enchanted Playhouse Co.)

Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Company offers tuition-free acting, low-cost tickets for children with community support at annual fundraiser

TULARE COUNTY – Parents and educators concerned about students’ social emotional wellbeing have access to a free, local program that might help youth overcome many of these problems – children’s theater.

Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Company is the only dedicated children’s theatre in the Central Valley specializing in shows for children of all ages. For more than 30 years, the organization has continued its mission of “bringing books to life” on stage by offering tuition-free programs for children interested in acting and low-cost ticket performances to thousands of students each year. Enchanted Playhouse is a tax-exempt non-profit that produces plays reaching 12,000 school-aged children, many of whom have never been exposed to live theatre, from Tulare, Fresno, Kern and Kings Counties. The organization was recently named a finalist for Nonprofit of the Year by the Visalia Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to make performing in theatre accessible to all children and families in our area. We do not charge a tuition fee and keep our ticket prices low to give low-income families the opportunity to participate and attend,” Enchanted Playhouse President Shanna Meier said.

Performing and experiencing theater plays an important role in a child’s development by allowing them to experience and observe live emotions, expand their imaginations, and exhibit creativity. In a 2024 article, Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, says children who are involved in performing arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement compared with their non-performing friends. That’s because performing promotes creative thinking skills, helps overcome anxiety, fosters understanding of other points of view, and improves self-esteem and confidence.

“Studies have shown that participating and watching live theatre can help literacy, social skills, a greater empathy and increased test scores,” Meier said. “Theatre also connects to the importance of reading. A play has the ability to jump a story off the page and bring it to life. This can assist with reluctant readers and bookworms alike. Participating in theatre can help with self-esteem and public speaking skills.”

Keeping Enchanted Playhouse free for actors and inexpensive for local student shows requires community support, not just at its plays but also its major fundraiser. This year’s Enchanted Evening will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare. This year’s fundraiser will support the theater company’s upcoming productions:

  • Twice Upon A Time, Nov. 8-10 2024 at Valley Strong Ballpark
  • Tinkerbell, Feb. 13-16 and 20-23, 2025 at Rotary Theatre
  • Charlotte’s Web, April 10-13 and 24-27, 2025 at El Diamanté Theatre

Tables of eight seats are available for $600 and individual tickets are $85. Payment can also be made by Venmo @Enchanted Playhouse or online at www.enchantedplayhouse.net. For more information on, call 559-972-7027 or email [email protected].

“Our show costs include rental fees, costumes, props, storage, insurance, royalties, sets etc. Each show can cost up to $20,000 depending on the show,” Meier said. “Enchanted Evening helps us with these costs but also gives us assistance in upgrading the sound equipment and creating a building fund to hopefully someday be able to purchase and build our own theatre site.”

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