One of the great joys of performing with Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) has been through its Popcorn Children's Theatre. This year I have been the title character in King Midas; last year I was Walt the Wizard in The Poet Who Wouldn't be King, a wonderful new play by Maria Menozzi; and 2 years ago I was the Narrator in An Afternoon With Hans Christian Andersen. Children are the best audience members. They get right into the story. They laugh out loud. Some even talk to the characters during the performance.
Two examples of the personal rewards I feel when performing for the kids: 1) During one of the King Midas performances, when I was yelling at one of the servants to bring me food, a somewhat-but-not-too little voice called out from a blanket right at the edge of the performing area, "You don't have to yell at her!." It was difficult to keep a straight face and stay in character after hearing such a wonderful reaction. 2) This past Saturday, I was sitting backstage out-of-costume between performances when a small boy appeared urged on by his mother who looked around and asked if King Midas was still there. Someone pointed me out and they came over and the mother said, "My son wanted to meet you and offer you some popcorn," at which point the boy smiled shyly and proffered a bag of our most popular concession item. I thanked him and took a few pieces. Then the boy smiled shyly and thanked me!
Every time I think about these and other encounters with the kids in the audience a big grin appears on my face. We still have 3 more weekends of King Midas performances to go. . . and I am already looking forward to next season. Thanks kids!