I have a confession.
I'm a theater mom ... and I secretly love it. There is nothing like seeing your children shine onstage, seeing them push themselves, work together with an amazing group of student actors and create the ultimate performance. Besides the production itself, I love how youth theater creates a home away from home and a family of friends for your kids.
My daughter discovered Central Florida Community Arts while randomly searching online one day looking for youth acting opportunities, and it changed her life.
Take it from my 17-year-old Sophia:
"It's a great experience. You feel like you are part of a real Broadway production," she said. "And the bonus is I've made friends for life."
She has already been in four productions with the CFCArts Youth Theatre Troupe and will be singing and dancing her heart out in the troupe's summer production of "The Secret Garden," which will debut at Wekiva High School on June 7. It is one of several youth theater productions taking place across Central Florida.
"I love living and working in Central Florida with all the different youth theater and dance programs here. We all work together and share resources, support eachother, and attend each other's shows," CFCArts Director of Education and Outreach Leah Porrata said. "We all want what is best for the kids."
If you too, have a Broadway-aspiring child, here is a full list of youth theater programs across Central Florida you may want to check out. Whether it is to see a performance, have your kid audition for a show or take part in a summer camp program, there are plenty of ways to be involved.
Titusville Playhouse Inc.| 301 Julia St., Titusville
The Titusville Playhouse calls its youth participants "rising stars," and says tit strives to empower their students with confidence, creative thinking, teamwork and performance skills. Scholarships and payment plans are available based on need. Starting in June there is a weeklong class for grades K-6 that will perform "Animation Live" and grades 3-12 will perform "Disney Frozen Jr."
There is also a week long camp that will be performing "This is the Greatest Show" with music from the hit movie "The Greatest Showman" for grades K-6 and another camp for grades 7-12 that will perform "Head Over Heels" with music from the Go-Go's.
The Henegar | 625 E New Haven Ave,. Melbourne
The Henegar Center Summer Camps will also be performing "Frozen Jr." for grades 3-12 with classes taking place from 9 a.m. to noon from June 24 through July 13. The Feller Youth Theatre Academy, grades K-6, will have their "Animation Live" camp classes from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m., June 24-28, "This is the Greatest Show" from July 8-12, and the Feller to Broadway Theatre Academy will have a four-week theater intensive program from July 15 - July 31 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. where they will perform "Carrie" Aug. 1- Aug. 4.
Flagler Playhouse | 301 E. Moody Blvd., Bunnell
Flagler Playhouse has a youth program that has a summer camp that will be performing "James and the Giant Peach." Registration is June 2, and camp is for kids ages 8-18. Camp dates will be July 8-July 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. Some scholarships are available.
Moonlight Players Theatre | 735 W. Minneola Ave., Clermont
Leading Players Summer Stock is for students in the eighth through 12th grades who want to be part of the theater's production of "Hairspray, Jr." Practices are from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. June 17 through June 29.
Rising Players Musical Theatre has a summer intensive for second through fifth grade students that will take place July 15- July 20 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Leading Players Musical Theatre also has a summer intensive for 6th to 12th grade students July 29 to Aug. 3 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Discounts are available if you sign up for two sessions. Scholarships are available.
CFC Arts Youth Theatre Troupe | 250 SW Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando
Young performers looking for an advanced, selective summer experience, look no further. Students in the Advanced Performance Camp, admitted by audition only, will learn advanced, high-level skills in acting, singing and dancing as they prepare to perform in a musical theater production.
Taught and produced by professional artists, this Advanced Performance Camp will culminate in ticketed performances of Disney's "Peter Pan Jr.," open to the public with full sets, costumes, props, lighting and sound.
Open to students entering grades 3-8. CFCArts Summer Programs also include Young Artists Orchestra Strings and Winds Camps, Middle and High School Vocal Music Camp and Acting and Theatre Intensive camp. For kids pre-K through 3rd grade, CFCArts has early Childhood Performing Arts camps in music, movement, storytelling and visual arts. Scholarships are available.
Garden Theatre | 160 West Plant St., Winter Garden
Garden Theatre promotes that its education programs will inspire theater lovers year-round. Its camps and classes get a big boost from their sponsorships from the Universal Orlando Foundation, Orlando Health, Dr. Phillips Charities and the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation.
Its summer camps are for young theater fans entering grades 1 through 12. Camps vary each session for campers interested in joining multiple weeks and culminate with a showcase on the last day of the session.
Its one week camps will include a theatrical journey into the "World of Mary Poppins", "Descendants: Isle of the Lost" and "Stranger Things: Jump into the Upside-Down." The one-week camps include productions surrounding the stories of "Harry Potter," "Hamilton" and "The Greatest Showman." Then in July, the Garden Theatre has a monthlong production camp that will be performing "Aladdin, Jr."
Orlando Repertory Theatre| 1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando
It doesn't matter if your young thespian is a beginner or a pro, Orlando REP Youth Academy welcomes all theater lovers and says it creates an environment to inspire creativity and build community through the arts.
Starting June 3, they have a Disney Summer Cinemagic for first and second graders, A "Sally Sells Sea Shells" performance Workshop for third through eighth graders, and a musical theater intensive for ninth through 12th graders. There is also a design and tech academy for seventh through 12th graders, a "Baby Shark and Friends" for 4 and 5-year-olds and multiple other theater offerings are available for your offspring through the months of June, July and August.
Extended Care provided in the morning and afternoon. Financial aid and scholarships are available for students who qualify.
Dr. Phillips Center | 155 E. Anderson St., Orlando
According to the education team over at the Dr. Phillips center, once the school year wraps up, the School of the Arts is in full swing. Every summer, students can spend a week or two completely immersed in their craft, learning from seasoned teachers during all-day sessions. Focused on musical theater, acting or jazz music, these high-energy summer camp programs are as rewarding as they are intensive. Each culminates in an exciting showcase for friends and family-a chance for students to show off their skills. Scholarships are available.
This summer students ages 10-18 can take part in Comedy Club for actors, ages 13-18 can take part in Jazz Music Intensive week, 14 year olds through college age students can audition and perform in a Musical Theater Production of "Legally Blonde," and those ages 6-11 can take part in Theater Arts Week where they can create their own performance. Most classes range from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. to 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Osceola Arts | 2411 E. Irlo Bronson Highway, Kissimmee
Osceola Arts has a Young Actors Company program where they divide kids into three age brackets: 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17. Each age group rehearses and performs a show. Their 13-17 age group will be performing "Shrek the Musical" in June. The program is tuition-based so all those that sign up will be included in the productions. Rehearsals are once a week for the younger groups and twice for the oldest group. Tuition ranges from $150-$300.
Osceola Arts also added a summer show open to ages 9-17 and will be performing "Disney Frozen, Jr." Rehearsals will be held Monday-Friday evenings beginning July 15. Performances will take place Aug. 9, 10 and 11.
They also have nine summer camps offered.
"Summer camp is a great time to let your kids explore new areas or continue in the environment they already love," said Education Director, Jennifer Panzella. "With our exciting new themes, there is definitely something for everyone."
According to Osceola Arts, the 2019 summer camp schedule focuses on visual arts, musical theater, filmmaking and music. Most camps are open to kids ages 6 - 14. Each camp has a unique theme that will allow campers to immerse themselves in the world of the arts. Before and After Camp care is also available for an additional fee. For a list of the summer camps, click here.
Lakeland Community Theatre | 121 S. Lake Ave., Lakeland
The Eunice Fuller Theatre for Youth is entering season 33. This year it will offer a Broadway Mini Dance camp June 17-20 from 9 a.m. to noon for ages 6-16. They will also have "A Show in Two Weeks" where everyone is guaranteed a role. The unique summer camp starts with a workshop on the audition process and ends with all campers in a production onstage on Aug. 3. Rehearsals take place July 22-Aug.2. Before and after care available for extra charge.
Theater West End | 115 West 1st St., Sanford
Theater West End is a newcomer to the theater scene in Central Florida. They have just been up and running since August of 2018 and opened their first show in their Sanford 1st Street location in September.
They cater to children ages 7 to 18 with a focus on more contemporary musicals for both the youth and teen programs. They have a summer camp starting in July for kids in grades second through eighth. This summer's youth production will be "Disney Frozen Jr." It will be a Monday-Friday camp from 9 a.m.- to 4 p.m., with aftercare available until 6pm for an extra fee. Performances with be July 27 and July 28. Theatre West End will also have a High School Musical Theater Intensive specifically designed from ninth to 12th grade students.
This summer's production will be "Chicago." Scholarships and installment plans are available.
Wayne Densch | 201 S. Magnolia Ave., Sanford
The theater that the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center is currently located has been around since 1923. It was formerly known as The Ritz Theatre and it was recently restored inside last October. There is no other 500-seat theater in all of Seminole County, so this is a great place for kids to get a taste of a big stage. WDPAC has both a Junior and Senior Summer Camp. The Junior Camp targets rising 1st graders through 3rd graders, and takes place June 24-28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will have a show to share at the end of the week. The Senior Summer camp is for rising fourth graders through 12th graders and takes place July 8-26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will have a cabaret style production at the end of the week. After care is not available. Scholarships are available for those who qualify. They also have a Repertory Junior production of "Aladdin Jr." That will be performing June 19-23.
Wekiva River Players Junior Theatre | Sommerville Kids Klub 1665 E. E. Williamson Road, Longwood
Wekiva River Players is Seminole County's longest-running theater ensemble, performing continuously since 1993. From its beginnings, WRP has served the community, not just providing theatrical entertainment, education and opportunities, but also giving back creatively to support important local causes through donations of time, money and talent. Registration is open for "Honk Jr."
WRP's Summer Stock Production Camp for Students entering grades sixth-12th. Rehearsals are June 3- June 7 and June 10- June 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Nativity Catholic Church at 3255 N. Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Longwood. Last day of rehearsal and Performance will be at Woodlands Elementary School in Longwood.
In August, rehearsals will begin for WRP Fall production of "Cinderella, Kids" for students entering grades 2-5 and "Pirates of Penzance, Jr." for students entering grades sixth- eighth.
Athens Theatre | 24 N. Florida Ave., DeLand
The Athens Theatre in DeLand is offering 6 different summer acting camps for junior thespians throughout the months of June, July and into August. The camps are one week long from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and are sectioned off based on age groups. They include productions that have an homage to "Mary Poppins", Disney villains, and fairy tale characters to more modern production nods to shows like "Sponge Bob Square Pants," "Sing" and "Glee."
Morning care and after care are available for an extra fee and will have kids enjoying arts and crafts, movies and games.
Here's to supporting and celebrating our next generation of actors, singers and artists!
Do you have a youth theater troupe or summer camp we did not mention? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.