By Yanira Ledezma
Playhouse Merced, located at 452 W Main St., is happily welcoming back its theater arts conservatory program. The conservatory focuses on teaching kids aged 6 through 18 theater art skills in voice, acting, jazz, tap, and acrobatics.
Beth Christensen has returned to the Playhouse theater as the educational director, and has brought along her husband, Josh Christensen to serve as technical director. Christensen served as Playhouse’s educational director from 2001-2005, and recently returned from New York to fill the new opening.
“Every child needs something to make them feel good and deserves a safe space to enjoy themselves in,” Christensen said of the program. “We create an environment where they can feel like a star.”
Classes are taught by theater professionals upstairs in the newly renovated Playhouse studio.
Christensen will be teaching dance and acrobatics with the assistance of Becca Whitmyre, an instructor who has previously co-directed and acted in Playhouse shows.
Rachel Rodrigues, who has taught for the theater conservatory in previous years, will be teaching Acting I, while Brian Kubo, a Merced Theater actor, director, and teacher, instructs Acting II, and Acting III.
Voice I will be taught by Cossette Asenjo, a conservatory alumni. Lauren Taylor-Berkman, a singer, actor, and teacher based out of Brooklyn, New York will be teaching Voice II and III alongside Jenni Samuelson, who comes from an opera and musical theater background.
The program features a number of classes and workshops scheduled Monday through Friday. Classes are about 1 hour and 15 minutes each and held after school between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., depending on the class.
The conservatory held their open house, Saturday Aug. 24, giving participants a taste at the structure and instruction of the classes.
Potential students attended classes for a quick 20 minutes; dancing, singing, and acting away with their future instructors. Christensen had students practice a small dance number set to the ever popular, “Be Our Guest,” from Beauty and the Beast.
Enrollment is still open to any students looking to garner theater skills and will remain open until classes are full. Anyone interested in enrolling is encouraged to visit Playhouses Merced’s website for more information on classes, requirements, and price details. One can stop by the main office, located at 452 W Main St, for further information on the conservatory.