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What's Up Magazine

The Children’s Theatre of Annapolis

May 12, 2011 07:21PM ● By Anonymous

According to 2009 government estimates, about 23% of the residents of Anne Arundel County are under the age of 18; that’s almost 120,000 children and teens—and CTA is reaching out to all of them with programs to build their self-esteem and confidence. CTA alumnus Andrew Lincoln writes, “These experiences [with CTA] helped me to embody values and skills that are commonly recognizes as essential for success.”

Jane Davis founded Children’s Theatre of Annapolis in 1959, with seed money from the Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation and the Junior League. Davis, along with Martha Wright, John Boyle and others, set out to provide kids, ages eight to 18, with professional level theatrical experiences, including try-outs, rehearsals, costuming, lighting, staging, performance, and workshops.

CTA Board of Directors President Julie Bays recalls, “All four of my children participated [in CTA]. My oldest son, Joel, had the part of a man in Sound of Music. I could see him grow— ‘I can do this.’ He really got it. CTA lets the kids who aren’t athletes or part of the ‘in crowd’ find what they can do well, it gives them confidence. The kids shine.”

But finding a place for rehearsals and performances as well as the storage of costumes, props, and sets wasn’t easy. After years of temporary locations, in 1999 CTA rented the old Nike site near Annapolis. When the site was acquired by Anne Arundel County, CTA began raising money to build the theatre facility of their dreams with workshop spaces, a full stage and rehearsal areas specifically designed for kids. The complex (with a price tag of two million dollars) dubbed Main Stage, opened May 1, 2008. Built from generous donations of professional time and financial contributions, the project is still $250,000 short of its goal, but executive director Swekel is optimistic that the goal will be reached, as well as the ability to generate the $10,000 a month needed to keep the organization running.

CTA has plans for the future: First, to bring the CTA productions more in synch with the public school curriculum, as they did in 2010 with the operetta Brandiera. “We want to create a tighter connection between [the public school] curriculum and the arts,” says Swekel. Additionally, a Youth-Arts Open House is scheduled for the spring of 2011, and a “Young Playwrights’ Competition” is in the planning stage for 2012. Contact CTA by visiting or calling 410-757-2281.