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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 5 years ago

Action! Kid actors dance, ad lib in preparation for big performance

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The acting class meets each Tuesday, at Nova Community Center, and is open for children ages 6-13 years old.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

Debby MacDonald’s acting class has about six weeks left to rehearse its lines, perfect its blocking and get ready for that big performance.

The acting class, which consists of two age groups that meet every Tuesday and a hip-hop class that meets Fridays, started four years ago, when MacDonald started teaching dance and organizing recitals.

“The dancing was going so well ... and my productions for the recitals started to become more like musicals,” she said. “So I needed skits in between.”

The next recital is June 1, at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, and is themed Backstage Pass. It will show the audience scenes from the hidden world of theater — behind the curtain.

But before the class can begin working scenes, they must first warm up.

MacDonald leads the class in stretching exercises, working the neck, legs, arms and hands. She then moves on to breathing exercises.

After that, a nearly constant state of motion begins, as MacDonald has the students walk in a circle, then march, then creep, then run. She intertwines emotional highs and lows, working the students up to the scene they’ll practice later.

“I really enjoy working with kids,” she said. “It’s really fun. It keeps me thinking, keeps me on my toes. It’s really, really rewarding. I’ve been doing it for a lot of years and I get a lot of kicks out of it.”

And MacDonald isn’t the only one forced to think on her toes each class. She emphasizes adlibbing, because she said the best actors in the world know how to make a scene, character or line their own.

“I give them a script, they go through it and we add some stuff,” she said. “And then I go home and I rewrite it, and I say, ‘You know what? That was really cute what he said there, let’s put that in.’”

MacDonald uses the students’ own words to help the performance develop, and in this way, the class is sometimes more like a theater group perfecting its next performance than an class for 7- to 9-year-olds.

“It starts to become more of their thing, as well as my thing,” MacDonald said.

To give the kids’ acting-and-dance class a try, call 212-0098.

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