Hippo Manchester
September 22, 2005

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Stages of learning

Acting Loft set to begin new semester of acting classes

By Michelle Saturley

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sing, tap dance or perform improvisational comedy, it’s never too late. The Acting Loft, a nonprofit theater company, will launch its fall semester of performing arts courses for children and adults on Monday, Oct. 3.

The Acting Loft is known mostly as a children’s theater company but artistic director Christopher Courage says the organization is also focused on performing arts educational opportunities for people of all ages and ability levels.

“I think people primarily associate us with our community theater shows and our kids’ shows, which is great, but our mainstay is the educational component of our programming,” Courage said. “We are, first and foremost, a place where aspiring performers can come and learn more about their craft.”

Programs for young performers include both stage and camera acting, improv, musical theater, as well as voice and dance. Classes such as “Broadway Kids,” aimed at children ages 5-9, teach young performers the basics of group and solo numbers, reading sheet music and preparing for an audition. The “Popstarz” class for kids 11-16 teaches them how to perform pop songs as solo and group artists.

Classes for adults include script analysis and scene study, beginning stage acting, advanced improv and on-camera acting, as well as hip-hop and jazz dancing. The Loft’s faculty consists of an impressive roster of local theater veterans and dancers, including former Miss NH and dance instructor Candice Glickman, Acting Loft’s resident choreographer Susan Horne, and actress Leah Belanger.

“Our staff is phenomenal,” Courage said. “They are all experienced performers and teachers and not only do they pass on their technical skills and knowledge, but they also know what the audition process is like. They know what it’s like to be a working actor or dancer.”

Courage said the adult classes are popular among people of all ages and backgrounds.

“It’s great when a 45-year-old man who has always wanted to be in a play comes and takes an acting class,” he said. “It’s even better when the adult students take what they’ve learned and go out and try out for a play somewhere and get a part. They’re just ecstatic about that.”

Courage says the adult courses set the Loft apart from other theater educational groups in the area that focus on children only. Many of the adult students go on to star in the Loft’s adult theatrical productions. Currently, the troupe is in rehearsal for Batboy, The Musical, which opens Oct. 21 and features many of the Loft’s adult and teen students. The performances are held at the Police Athletic League building, located on the corner of Beech Street and Lake Ave.

The Acting Loft’s semester runs for 12 weeks, and courses for adults are offered in the evening at the Concord Street location. Classes for kids are held in the early evening and follow the school calendar for parents’ convenience. Private voice lessons are also available. For further information, call 666-5999.