By Claire McNeill
I’m excited to start a new blog series as a resource for my favorite kind of parents…drama mamas (and dads too, of course)!
I often have students who surprise their families with their love and talent for musical theatre. Many of their parents have no experience in the performing arts and would like to support their kiddos but have no clue which way to turn in order to guide them.
So…I’ll be writing a series of blog posts titled, “My kid wants to do Musical Theatre…now what?”
First, I’ll be addressing the number one question of this nature that I get from parents: “SHOULD I support my child’s dreams of pursuing musical theatre?“
So many parents are afraid of the perceived cut-throat nature of theatre. I think that many parents fear that their child “isn’t good enough” and that Broadway isn’t a realistic dream. Or maybe parents believe their child is good enough to “make it” but they are worried that their kid will end up living in a 300 square foot apartment in NYC with 6 roommates and waiting tables for their entire adult life. If you hold these fears, I want to encourage you to think beyond these possible preconceived notions and consider the benefits.
There are so many exciting professions in theatre: acting, producing, teaching, music directing, choreographing, writing, and of course, my favorite option – directing.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. If your child is in elementary or middle school (and maybe even high school), who’s to say that your child is even going to want to pursue a career in theatre? What if I told you that theatre is a hobby that will allow your child to grow their confidence and self-worth; learn how to collaborate with a group; grow their leadership, public speaking, and responsibility skills; make friends; become more physically active; hone their critical thinking skills; raise their test scores; gain empathy through acting; learn how to read music; and develop cherished life-long memories? When you see those benefits on paper, it’s a no-brainer! In my opinion, the skills that are gained and the benefits of children’s and youth theatre are unparalleled to any other hobby.
But, forget about test scores and resumes and building skills for a minute. Here’s the short version of my answer: Does musical theatre bring your child joy? Do you see them come alive every time you pick them up from rehearsal? Have they discovered an untapped passion? Then, by all means, you should support your child in pursuing musical theatre! If your child is in a safe and wholesome atmosphere and falling asleep with a smile on their face every night when they leave the theatre, it’s a win. Maybe right now, let’s just let our kids be kids and not worry about what the New York casting agents are going to say quite yet.