Suffolk University Students Bring Children's Theatre to Boston Area Youngsters


Led by Chris DeStefano, SU brings children’s theatre to youngsters.

A group of Suffolk University students are taking a step out of the classroom and onto center stage, performing the classic children's tale, Rumplestiltskin, for youngsters throughout the Boston area ­ free of charge.

Working in collaboration with SOULS (Suffolk's Organization for Uplifting Lives through Service) and its ReadBoston Program, the Children's Theatre Troupe is bringing live theater to communities of children who may not otherwise have access to it.

"We are very excited about how this program complements our after-school literacy program," said SOULS coordinator Yvette Velez. "The arts are a multi-dimensional approach to increasing children’s attitudes towards reading."

The Children's Theatre Troupe is part of the newly created Student Performing Arts Program at Suffolk University. "Our goal is to provide our students with more opportunities to perform and showcase their various talents," said Chris DeStefano, director of the Student Performing Arts Program. "We want to create new and different types of performing arts that our students can participate in, regardless of their academic majors, ability levels, and rigorous class and work schedules."

DeStefano, an East Boston resident and a graduate of Suffolk University, strongly believes that the Children's Theatre Troupe is a win-win situation for everyone involved. "Our students are gaining a solid performance foundation, while the children are experiencing the enjoyment of live theater," said DeStefano. "It's so easy to underestimate the amount of magic you can create with a few simple pieces of wood and some colorful costumes."

Directing the Children's Theatre Troupe is something of a dream come true for DeStefano. "I've been interested in the theater since I was a little kid," he said. "In school I was always one of the first students to volunteer when it came time to put on plays."

He says that there is a lot of work that goes on before the curtain opens and the bright lights appear. "It takes many hours to prepare for a production," he said. "You're taking people from all areas of life and making them work together as one. Like anything else, teamwork and communication are the key factors to be successful."

The Children's Theatre Troupe made its debut in December with a 30-minute, audience-participatory production of Rumplestiltskin. Nearly 50 youngsters from the Ellis Memorial Elementary School in Boston were educated and entertained by the cast of Suffolk performers.

"The kids responded to our performance enthusiastically," said DeStefano. "We were a big hit."

The Children's Theatre Troupe will add The Emperor's New Clothes to its repertoire during the spring semester and plans on performing at Children's Hospital as well as numerous elementary schools and after-school programs in the metropolitan area.

"One of our future goals is to have multiple casts at multiple sites at the same time," said DeStefano. "Hopefully, with more students getting involved, we can make that happen."

For more information about the Children's Theatre Troupe or the Student Performing Arts Program at Suffolk University, please call Chris DeStefano at 617-305-6307.

January 8, 2001

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