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Registration is Open for The Alexandria Children’s Theatre Now Starting Its Winter Season, Ages 4-14

Making Friends, Performing Plays and Musicals and Learning Valuable Life Skills

Children on stage in costume with audience looking toward them.
The Little Mermaid Jr. was performed by Alexandria Children’s Theatre in November 2023. There were 35 actors in the cast, and approximately 800 audience members came to the shows. (Photo: Joseph Edwards)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The winter season starts January 13 for the Alexandria Children’s Theatre, located just outside of Old Town at the Burgundy Farm Country Day School, 3700 Burgundy Road, Alexandria, Virginia, 22303.   

Roberta Cullen, who founded and runs the Alexandria Children’s Theatre, says, “Engaging in theatrical activities not only ignites imagination but also cultivates useful skills such as reading, memorizing lines as well as collaborating with others. Skills they can take beyond their acting practice and into other areas of their lives.”

Older lady holding a unicorn costume with two small children looking up at her.
Roberta Cullen, Executive Director of the Alexandria Children’s Theatre, with some of the kids in a production. (Courtesy photo)

Cullen is an accomplished arts educator with over 18 years of experience teaching children’s acting classes in the Alexandria area. She helped launch the summer camp program at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, and provided more than a thousand children with their first experience onstage.

At Burgundy Farm Country Day School, she taught drama and assisted with over 17 middle school productions.  “Theatre experience gives kids a space where they can explore their creativity, develop self-expression, and foster confidence.”

Cullen shared some of the experiences* she’s had while training young actors: 

From a middle school student’s mom: “This acting experience saved our daughter. That probably sounds extreme, but she was being bullied at school and we were getting a divorce. She was able to escape all that each week in her ACT class.”

From an elementary school mom: “Acting is my son’s “sport”. He found his people pursuing theatre and he’s active when he’s performing: singing and dancing burns off a lot of energy, plus he’s learning how to collaborate with a group of people.”

From a preschooler’s mom: “I signed our daughter up, not sure what was going to happen. She was diagnosed with selective mutism, so I told the instructor she probably wouldn’t talk in the creative movement/acting class because she didn’t really talk at school. By the end of the second class, she was participating and sharing her ideas. It was fantastic!”

35 kids on stage in the Little Mermaid Jr in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Little Mermaid Jr, performed by the Alexandria Children’s Theatre in November 2023. (Photo: Joseph Edwards)

Due to the collaboration needed to produce theatre performances, participation provides children with opportunities to communicate effectively and problem-solve within a supportive environment. By assuming diverse roles, kids learn empathy, understanding different perspectives, and embracing cultural nuances, adds Cullen. 

“Embracing the performing arts at a young age empowers children to become resilient, adaptable individuals capable of facing the complexities of the world with assurance and grace,” adds Cullen who has much to teach the children she works with that goes beyond acting. The theatre director also has a background in news broadcasting, writing, and traveling the world.  

“Acting encourages children to step out of their comfort zones, conquer stage fright, and ultimately build the confidence to navigate various social and personal challenges. I’ve seen this in many of the young children I’ve worked with,” she said.  

Children ages 4 – 14 from around the DMV are welcome to participate in the theatre productions and will be part of a class of about 14 other children. 

“No experience is necessary,” says Roberta Cullen, “we build on skills.”

The classes are offered for ages 4-5, 6-8, and 9+ on Saturdays from 9 am to 12:30 and run for one hour. After the final class, everyone will perform something for their families onstage. All registered families are welcome to use the Burgundy playground before and after class on Saturdays. Performances take place twice a year.

Little boy sound asleep in his be holding theatre program.
This little five-year old loved the production so much he waited to get autographs and fell asleep that night with his Little Mermaid Jr. program. (Courtesy photo) 

The cost for the winter sessions is going to be $200 but there are scholarships available for students receiving free/reduced-price lunches.  

 A Mixed-Up Day in the Forest will be performed this Spring. 

Beginner classes (6-8 year olds) use stories like Caps for Sale or Click, Clack, Moo, whereas classes for older children create their own presentations such as The Time Travelers’ Christmas, which is a reimagined version of A Christmas Carol, a story about a group of privileged siblings who time travel back to Old England and see how bullying made Scrooge into the undesirable character he became.  

“Putting on productions such as these does come at a cost of around $13,000,” Cullen told Zebra Press. “Producing a show like The Little Mermaid Jr. requires licensing fees, and payment for the director, music director, and choreographer. Rehearsal as well as performance space rental is also part of these expenses. But I feel like this is such important work and truly helps many children who come and take part. I feel compelled to keep the productions going.”

When asked if there was a message to convey to young aspiring actors in Alexandria, Cullen said, “With our program, they can come to the first class as a drop-in student ($25) to try it out and see what they think before they register for the session.  An acting class is one place where they can share their ideas and there aren’t any wrong answers.”

To learn more and register, click here.

Eliza North

Eliza North is a British/American writer. She is currently a freelance reporter at Zebra Press. Eliza studied Social Sciences at Kensington and Chelsea College, and went on to earn her Bachelors in Psychology at the University of Kent in Canterbury England. She recently graduated from The University of Cambridge, earning her Masters degree in Creative Writing.

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