'To Be or Not to Be?" How'd you like to hear your child practicing that line in front of the mirror? Check out one of these acting programs to draw out a child's inner Hamlet -- or maybe her inner Hannah Montana.
DRAMA KIDS INTERNATIONAL: More than a dozen locations on Long Island, North Nassau County: 516-876-4228; South Nassau County: 516-374-3222; Suffolk County: 631-418-8436; dramakids.com
Three franchises on Long Island split the Island into three territories.
"We rent space and bring the drama class to the community," says Timothy Dolan, co-director of the Suffolk program, which meets in schools or libraries. "Drama Kids is not a performance-based group. It's more of a developmental program."
Classes focus on dialogue development, group scenes, articulation and other topics. Each franchise runs essentially the same curricula: Kinder Kids for ages 4 and 5, Lower Primary for ages 6 to 8, Upper Primary for ages 9 to 11, and Acting Academy for ages 12 and older. The groups do perform original scripts for parents, but the show is not the purpose of the course, Dolan says.
Cost: Sign up at any time; a full year of lessons in Suffolk is $650 for 35 lessons with a one-time $25 registration fee; in Nassau, it's $675 with a $20 registration fee.
This nonprofit runs three productions starring kids throughout the year. Most of the shows are for children ages 8 to 18; the February show is for children younger than 14.
Children audition for their parts; the rehearsals are considered the "lessons," says Linda Burke, vice president of the board of directors. "The director will take time to work with the kids," she says.
Shows this year include "Footloose" and "Once on This Island." Rehearsals are three times a week - Tuesday and Thursday evenings and usually Sunday morning - for about two to three months per production.
Cost: $175 per child
In Lindenhurst, classes usually have 25 children ages 7 to 12 who audition and are placed in acting classes to rehearse for a show. In East Islip, two Tiny Tykes programs are designed for ages 4 to 6 and 7 to 9. The younger group meets 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. on Saturdays for 10 weeks beginning Oct. 17, with a recital on the last day of class. Tiny Tykes II, the older group, meets from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the same 10 weeks. Another group in East Islip, for ages 7 to 12, began meeting yesterday and will perform "Sleeping Beauty" on Dec. 5 and 6.
Cost: $250 per child for the Lindenhurst program; $200 per child for the East Islip Tiny Tykes programs and $250 for the 7-to 12-year-old East Islip group.
Classes will focus on skills required to become an actor, rather than rehearsing for a specific play. The program will culminate in a recital, but the performance won't be the focus.
"The kids all want to do shows, and I completely understand that. But it's like going out to play basketball without learning how to shoot," says Richard Dolce, producing artistic director.
The children need a solid skill foundation to build for junior high, high school and community theater productions, and that's the goal of the courses. Ten-week classes, plus two weeks for production, begin in September, primarily meeting once a week. Ages 2 to high school seniors.
Cost: Between $250 and $350, depending on the class
ON CENTERSTAGE SUFFOLK Y JCC: 74 Hauppauge Rd., Commack, 631-462-9800, suffolkyjcc.org
Children in grades 7 to 12 audition at 5 p.m. on Monday; bring 16 measures of a Broadway show tune. They will perform "Grease" on Feb. 6 and 7. Children in grades 1 to 6 audition at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 27; they will do a review Dec. 12 and 13. Rehearsals are 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays for younger children; 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays for the older group. Kids are exposed to choreography, singing and acting.
Cost: Members, $178 and nonmembers, $202, says Barbra Bresin, president of On Centerstage Inc.
WAY OFF BROADWAY: Seven locations: Bellmore, Garden City, Huntington, Manhasset, Plainview, Rockville Centre and Syosset, 516-741-1682, wayoffbroadway.org
Classes from September to May in acting with musical theater, culminating in a performance the children write with singing, movement and acting. Classes meet weekly for up to 90 minutes after school or on Saturdays, grouped by age from kindergarten through 12th grade. Children can sample one class before committing, says co-owner Wendy Taucher.
Cost: $1,200 per student for the year