We offer year-round, accessible and inclusive programming in the performing arts, giving children and their families many opportunities to learn, play and grow! Participation in the arts inspires young people to explore their creativity and share their natural gifts of imagination and expression. At The Growing Stage, we dedicate all our programming to that ideal.
Our five-production Main Stage season, presented at the historic Palace Theatre, is the hallmark of Growing Stage programming. Each year, we carefully craft a slate of time-honored classics and new, original works designed to educate, enlighten and entertain our young patrons and their families. Main Stage shows give children, their parents and, very often, their grandparents a unique opportunity to share a fun moment in the theatre together and create memories that last a lifetime!
Main Stage productions are cast with either all Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) professionals or a mix of professional and community actors ranging in age from elementary school to adult. The Growing Stage is the only theater for young audiences in the region that offers community artists this unique opportunity to participate in a professional production alongside AEA actors. We hold the mentoring of young people as a fundamental responsibility, and the professionals we cast are an excellent resource and example for our aspiring young cast and crew members.
Shows with a full AEA cast are offered as “Main Stage Matinees” with performances in our theater on weekdays. School groups attend these reasonably priced performances, and we augment the educational value of the production with teaching guides and “talk back” sessions. School-day matinees give children the life-enhancing experience of live theater in a theater that they might not otherwise have, and this engagement often brings the children’s families back to share the experience.
Since our founding in 1982, The Growing Stage has given young people of all ages the opportunity to actively participate in the arts through professionally taught classes and workshops. The core of our educational program is our 12-week spring and fall Creative Arts class series and five-week Summer Arts Day Camp. These programs provide arts exposure and instruction for children of all ages, abilities and levels of experience. We also create individualized workshops for groups including the Morris Area Girl Scout Council, home-schooled students, and local elementary and preschools.
In 2009, we significantly expanded our educational programming with the institution of the Studio Presentation Series. Aimed at engaging children of all ages during the school year and older teens during the summer, the Studio Series gives students the opportunity to work in a process-oriented environment and develop their performance skills by taking part in new, experimental works under the guidance of emerging professional directors. The Studio Series includes our Summer Musical, an intensive, 10-week musical theatre master class for high school and college-aged actors.
Our New Play-Reading Festival is the latest addition to The Growing Stage educational slate, and this program gives our patrons the opportunity to experience the progression of a new work from development to production. Each year, four new, unpublished works for young audiences are chosen by a panel of artists and playwrights and presented by professional artists in two staged readings. The playwrights talk about their work, and artists and audience have the opportunity to join the discussion. At the conclusion of the festival, one of the new plays is chosen to be mounted as a Main Stage production!
Arts in Education Programs:
Recognizing the paramount importance of the arts in children’s education, The Growing Stage offers school-day productions both in our theatre and in schools. The Palace Theatre hosts Main Stage Matinees, and for schools that are unable to travel to Netcong, we offer our touring production ofTales from the Garden, an original, professionally cast work that celebrates the history, poetry and folklore of New Jersey. Under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Growing Stage has completed performing arts residencies in several underserved elementary and middle schools in central and southern New Jersey. Growing Stage programs have become pivotal in delivering arts exposure to thousands of students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience live theatre, music and dance.