Class Act Drama to present ‘Oklahoma!’ in Kettering this month

There are many schools in the area with theater departments that present plays and musicals every year. But is an actual, physical school needed to do this? For Class Act Drama, the answer is “no.”

Class Act Drama, founded in 2010 by director Judy Bouschard of Bellbrook, is a non-profit charitable organization for home-educated students to experience theater and develop their talents.

Bouschard was active in theater in her high school and college days. After getting married and having 10 kids, all of which she homeschooled, she decided to start the organization for her kids and others in the homeschool arena.

“This is a God-centered group and we have been blessed in many ways,” she said. “Several young people in the group might have self-esteem problems and once they find the camaraderie, they blossom. That’s pretty much the premise of the existence of the group.”

Bouschard admits she encountered a few hiccups when the group started. She said finding space is difficult, but the group found a home at Van Buren Middle School in Kettering where performances are held. They rehearse at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek.

“I was knee-deep before I realized the [first] show was going to cost $10,000,” she said. “But by the grace of God we were able to raise enough money. All the families contributed.”

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The families support the group financially and also assist with costumes and sets. Many items are made by parents at their homes.

Music director Nathan Price is a particular volunteer who has been with the group for seven years. He said it’s a lot of work, but he loves it.

“The fact that these kids are very self-motivated and bring their own creativity to the group are some of my favorite parts,” Price said. “Something unique about this group is that it doesn’t matter what part they play, they bring everything they have to it.”

The group’s practices are loud and full of ruckus. Parents and younger siblings look on as they warm up. Some of the tinier siblings even attempt to mimic their brothers and sisters. The rehearsals last four hours every Friday during the season because these kids are dedicated.

“I enjoy the vocals, the harmonizing and blending,” said choreographer Mary Giesse, among the alums who return to work with the group. “I enjoy the kids. It’s a good group. It can get frustrating when you’re learning a dance or a scene and something isn’t making sense. You get a good sense on how to be polite even when you’re frustrated.”

The group’s upcoming production is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical “Oklahoma!,” which will be performed June 9-11 and June 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. at Van Buren Middle School in Kettering.

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Christian Whitman, a junior who plays Will Parker in the production, said sometimes there is a stigma people might have about homeschooled kids.

“I just hope people come,” he said. “I hope people enjoy and come not expecting to watch a bunch of homeschooled little kids. I hope we can fill up the seats.”

Tickets are available on the group’s website classactdrama.org. Patrons can also donate money on the site. Class Act Drama is also always looking for volunteers to help out with costumes and sets. Volunteers are critical to the students’ growth and success.

Price is excited that “Oklahoma!” will teach the students more about characterization.

“I really hope that the students grow as actors,” he said. “This is definitely a more serious production. I hope they can understand the complexity of their characters because that’s a big responsibility for high schoolers.”

HOW TO GO

What: “Oklahoma!”

When: June 9-11 and June 16-18 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Van Buren Middle School, 3775 Shroyer Rd., Kettering

Cost: $12 for adults; $10 for students and seniors; $40 family pass; free for children ages 3 and younger

Tickets: classactdrama.org

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