An organization that provides children with another outlet to explore their interest in the performing and theatrical arts is gearing up for another play season.
The MainStage School of Performing Arts and Children's Theater, 164 S. 31st St. in Paducah, draws first to sixth-grade students from schools across the region, including McCracken County, Paducah and St. Mary, Community Christian Academy into Caldwell County and southern Illinois, according to teacher and play director Megan Hughes.
She said the program, in its second year, has doubled in the number of students, with 80 current students, the number of class offerings and of yearly staged productions, from two to four plays. The after-school instruction is concentrated toward acting, singing and dancing, and provides students with a well-rounded understanding of each discipline.
"We are geared toward students who want to pursue the arts as a career or just learn more about one or more specific disciplines," she said. "Either way, it's always better to possess a triple-threat with multiple skills."
Classes also focus on preparing students for auditions for the Governor's School of the Arts. Any student enrolled in a class is automatically in one of the four yearly productions, but auditions are held for the leads and larger roles. Students develop skills outside the artistic realm as programs are geared toward boosting self-esteem, elevating confidence levels and teaching team-building, according to Hughes.
"Our students have big dreams and we hope to help gear them up to pursue their interests," she said. "We are lucky to have so many who are hungry for the arts."
About 30 students have been rehearsing for "The Music Man Jr.," which will open Friday. Sixth-grade student and play lead Zachary Farmer said the program provides the opportunity to go more in depth and past the basics with artistic endeavors.
"MainStage is a place where I can express myself, spend time with friends and learn something," he said. "They don't just teach us, they show us how to apply and put those skills into our plays."
The MainStage's production will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, with additional show times at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Heath Middle School auditorium at 4336 Future City Road. The school will also put on the play "Peter Pan" this spring and hold a summer camp for younger students. To learn more, call the school at 270-558-4249.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.