Riverside Children’s Theatre (RCT) is the leading children’s theatre in Riverside County. RCT is an award-winning performing arts school and performance troupe, winning awards from the Inland Theatre League and the Press Enterprise. For almost 55 years, RCT has introduced thousands of children to the magical world of theatre through participation in drama instruction and performances opportunities, both on and off the stage, hopefully instilling a life-long love of the performing arts in the hearts of our youth.
Membership in Riverside Children’s Theatre is open to all students regardless of background. One of the Mission Goals of RCT is to encourage children from diverse backgrounds to learn acting and participate in theatre, in hope that they will encourage other students to understand, participate in and appreciate the arts. Each year, over 160 children, from kindergarten through 8th grade participate in our acting school on Saturdays.
Our acting school, unique among area performing arts groups, holds classes throughout the year for 3 hours on Saturday mornings. We maintain a limit of 24 – 32 students in each class size to ensure that all students can fully benefit from both individualized and group instruction. Because we limit the size of these classes, there is generally a 2-3 year waiting list to join the organization. Students in these classes participate in dance and music instruction as well as in theatre arts. In addition, great attention is devoted to helping the children build their self-esteem, confidence and public speaking skills – skills and abilities that will enhance their adult lives wherever their career paths will take them.
Once admitted into the school portion of the program, all children are invited and encouraged to participate in our two musical productions held in the fall and spring each year. Recent productions include: Seussical the Musical, Aladdin, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Willy Wonka, Grease, and Jungle Book. All children receive a part in the production and are exposed to the full experiences of putting on a production on stage. Regardless of their role, all children receive special make-up and costumes to help them feel they are integral to the production. Rehearsals for each play last approximately two months, culminating in 6 performances over two weekends to paying audiences, plus an additional two dress rehearsals which are open to the public at no cost. At the second of these dress rehearsals, we invite individuals from the community who might otherwise not be able to come to a production, i.e., Students from the California School for the Deaf, group home residents, and local students from low income schools. Each year, over 1,500 people attend our plays.
Area high schools and other performing arts venues in the area are delighted to have our students enter their theatre departments and productions. They know our students have already learned the basics of theatre production and have demonstrated the high level of commitment required to be successful in the performing arts. Even those students who do not pursue the performing arts after graduation from RCT tell us of the confidence and poise in public speaking their experience at RCT has given them, and how it has enhanced their classroom performance.
Many of our students have gone on to pursue education and careers in the performing arts. Our students have graduated from the USC drama school, Cal State Fullerton (majoring in stage craft), and the Claremont School of Music. We have students who are or will be attending USC film school, Boston Conservatory, and the Chicago School of the Performing Arts masters program in the fall. Numerous graduates of RCT have gone on to pursue successful careers in opera and acting: Eva LaRue (now on CSI:Miami) and Collin ODonnell had successful careers in television soap operas; Gabby McColgan was touring the country with a San Francisco based opera company; Adam Dior played a supporting role in Tom Sawyer starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and had a pilot set for release in the fall. Most recently, one of our former Saturday School dance instructors, is a Radio City Rockette!
A unique feature about RCT is that we are a volunteer run organization. We have no paid executive director or staff running the organization. Stipends are paid to the Saturday school instructors. Many of these are certified public school teachers who teach at RCT because of their great love for the performing arts and their commitment to its value to the children they teach. The Play directors, choreographers, stage manager, music directors and musicians also receive a small stipend for their work. However, the contribution of hours by all these individuals to our school and plays far exceeds the value of the stipend received. Otherwise, all other class and play activities are performed by parent volunteers, including: building and painting the sets; costume design; supervision of the children during rehearsals and plays; selling concessions and boutique items during plays; assisting guests in the parking lot; managing the house during productions. Parents donate an average of 70 hours each season with the acting classes and plays to support their children’s participation in RCT.