Some children are shy and nervous to speak to others. Other children are bursting at the seams with confidence and can’t wait to be in the spotlight.
When it comes to theater, all children can benefit, said Jess Oyler, an assistant director for Act It Out! Children’s Theatre and the mother of two young girls involved in the program.
“I have a daughter who is extra energetic, and needed a place to kind of put her energy, and then my other daughter is kind of shy,” Oyler said.
Oyler said that unlike other activities such as dance, gymnastics and other sports activities, her 4- and 6-year-old daughters have both shown great interest in acting. She said she likes that they have something they can enjoy together.
Sharee Millet, owner and director of Act It Out!, said acting is another way for children to develop skills and be involved in extracurricular activities outside of sports. She said she loves seeing children build their confidence and overcome fears of public speaking.
“A lot of children are pretty apprehensive about doing this in front of an audience,” Millet said. “It is so satisfying to see them just bloom and be amazing.”
Millet said she actually received her degrees in Spanish and math, and only became heavily involved in theater after her children became interested in it.
“As an adult is when I really got involved with theater,” Millet said.
Millet said she has been involved with theater for 17 years, spending 15 of those years as a director. She said she started with a children’s theater in Utah and eventually started Act It Out! Children’s Theatre in 2015 after moving to Rexburg.
“My whole goal is to increase self-confidence in children and to do that through theater,” Millet said.
Currently, Act It Out! has locations in Rexburg, Idaho Falls and Rigby, with the Rigby program new this year. The Idaho Falls program kicked off last year. Children ages 5 to 15 or 16 can participate in summer programs or the year-long classes that start in September and end in April.
This year, students of the program will perform “Wizard of Oz” in April. Parts will be decided in December based on three months of acting games, microphone work and skits, Millet said. Oyler said there are no auditions.
“(Millet) kind of gets to know these kids on a deeper level,” Oyler said. “She makes sure that they’re comfortable, and she works with them to be confident.”
Regardless of the part, all children have speaking parts in the plays, which Millet said is important. She said the scripts for the plays are essentially based on the stories and written from scratch, with more speaking parts added in so everyone can be involved.
“We’ve written 12 parts for munchkins,” Millet said.
She said there are currently about 30 students in each class, with a few less in the younger classes. Classes are taught from 4 to 5 p.m. for ages 5 to 7 and from 5 to 6 p.m. for ages 8 and up. Classes are every Tuesday in Rigby, every Wednesday in Idaho Falls and every Thursday in Rexburg. Millet said there is still space in all classes.