‘STAGES!’ Offers Jersey City Kids & Teens the Chance to Produce Their Own Musical

When Christine Goodman was a teenager, she enrolled in a program of the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts and learned how to put on a play from start to finish. Then she performed in the production, a youth-oriented version of Pippin.

Goodman, the executive director of Art House Productions, loved the process, connected with peers, and saw her confidence blossom.

“That youth program was my starting point for then branching out into the community,” she says. “I realized how much I liked performing and started auditioning for community theater.”

Goodman and Art House Productions hope to offer a similar experience to Jersey City youth. STAGES!, a 12-week theater academy focused on acting, singing, movement and the inner workings of musical production, starts September 20 at Art House Productions’ space on Hamilton Park. Open to kids and teens in grades 4 to 12, the program will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 pm and conclude with three performances of the Dr. Seuss musical Seussical on December 9, 10 and 11.

The program seems like a natural extension of the shorter Summerstage JC acting academy for teens. One of its champions, resident lighting designer Lance Michel, was a leader of a similar program for youth in California.

Kit Vogelsang (on the right in photo at right), who taught the Summerstage Acting for Teens class, will direct STAGES! with Devra Seidel (on the left in photo at right), who will serve as musical director. Vogelsang acted in Art House Productions’ Murder on Ice and has performed in various productions in New York and New Jersey. She studied theater and performance in college and has a master’s degree in performance studies. Seidel is working with PS 69 in the Bronx on its production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and was the musical director of the children’s program of the John W. Engeman theater in Northport, Long Island. She studied piano at Oberlin College and the Manhattan School of Music.

For more information, or to register for the program, visit arthouseproductions.org. The cost is $750, though a limited number of scholarships are available, and the deadline to register is this Friday, September 16.

a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, and Agence France-Presse. She is also a former editor for Jersey City Independent.