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All the World’s a Stage

Talent Machine’s young actors are rehearsing for life

     Talent Machine is a gifted crew of kids and volunteers who make magic for audiences of every age. This year, the seven- to 14-year-old troupe is working on Peter Pan; the kids have learned lines, choreography and music to captivate audiences. From this experience, they’ll take away more than memories and new friends.
    As actors, they have learned to manage their time, to carry on when things didn’t go according to plan and to work with different people. Most of all, they have gained confidence in themselves.
    The big thing they take from theater, most of the 38 said, is confidence. They also overwhelmingly credit acting with bringing them out of their shells, making them more outgoing.
    “I was really shy at first, but meeting new people and doing all the crazy things we have had to in rehearsals have killed my stage fright,” says Timmy Kandra, 12, who plays Smee. “It helped me be bigger, bolder and more outgoing.”
    Peter Pan himself has learned to “let it go and do whatever without caring about what people think,” says actor Sam Ellis, 12. “I am less nervous in interviews, and I am more confident in myself.”
    The parent volunteers have seen the transformation. Producer Danielle Basilio has, she says, “seen the kids become more confident leaders.” Her own daughter ­Sierra, who plays an Indian girl, “has gained so much confidence and become a role model for the younger kids.”
    Peter Pan’s director, Sim Rivers, a rising junior from University of Maryland Baltimore County, has been doing theater for five years. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year when friends and family encouraged me to audition,” he says. “I got a small part, but it gave me confidence and the show made me happy.”
    Rivers is strict with the kids because they only had two and a half months of rehearsals, all on weekends, so they had to “learn how to manage their time and follow direction.”
    Aiden Smith (12, pirate) and Cami Gore (14, Mrs. Darling) love to showcase their dancing. Sam is excited to belt out his songs. Vivian Kaplan (7, lost child) can’t wait to do both, on stage, in front of a full house.
    “I love this show,” says Ellis. “It will entertain kids and remind adults of when they were kids.”
    Long after the final curtain closes and the set is struck, the lessons, friendships and confidence these kids have made will last a lifetime.
    Help the kids of Peter Pan fly. Talent Machine, a non-profit, continues to raise funds for flight training and harnessing: www.gofundme.com/8nx608.