Cast of ‘Snowy Day’: Parting thoughts on value of early arts education

A Snowy Day. Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor. Adams Viscom.

The cast of DCPA Education’s ‘The Snowy Day,’ from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Emily Lozow.

‘At an early age, the arts develop curiosity, empathy and whole little human beings through storytelling.’

DCPA Education launched its new Theatre for Young Audiences program this fall with The Snowy Day and Other Stories, which closes today after having been seen by about 20,000 underserved pre-school through 3rd graders from around the metro area.

The production, staged in full partnership with the DCPA Theatre Company, told a sweet medley of four stories in the remarkable series authored by Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day tells the simple story of a boy named Peter and the wonder of his first encounter with snow.

The play, told largely with the assistance of puppets, was performed by three professional local actors and benefited from the full resources of the DCPA Theatre Company’s creative staff, who focused on making the production a tactile experience in which all of the young audiences’ senses were activated.

Allison Watrous, Director of DCPA Education and also director of The Snowy Day, said it is crucial to introduce live theatre to young people during the early years. “Theatre has not only been shown to boost academic achievement among early childhood learners,” she said, “live performance can have a large impact on the way a kindergartner views and thinks about the world.”

In all the company gave 99 performances of The Snowy Day.  “More than 15,000 attended on organized field trips, with 79 percent of the participating schools on scholarship,” Watrous said. “We also welcomed more than 5,000 students for post-show workshops led by DCPA Teaching Artists.”

As the company prepares to make its final two of nearly 100 performances today (Saturday, Nov. 18), actors Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy reflected on the value of arts education in their own young lives, which has led them to their place on the Conservatory Theatre stage:

Robert Lee Hardy 160ROBERT LEE HARDY
“I was first exposed to theatre in the second grade. I was always in the principal’s office, and my teacher decided to put me onstage. The experience changed my life. I wasn’t a horrible kid. I just needed an outlet and I needed to find my passion. The arts change lives.”

Zak Reynolds 160ZAK REYNOLDS
“I was first exposed to live theatre around 5 or 6. I sat in Casa Mañana, a leading theatre in Fort Worth, Texas, when it was in the round, watching rehearsals of Big River happen while the orchestra was setting up and other actors were waiting around for their scene. I think that was the moment I sensed the smell of the theater and the energy of the entire dome, knowing that this is what I want to do. That sounds hilarious, being that young age, but it’s true. I think that’s why I love performing live theatre to young audiences — because I was there once. It helped me morph into the person I am today, and I just want to share those experiences with any age group.”

My older sister was a ballerina for Colorado Ballet when I was very young.  She was so stunningly beautiful. I wanted to be a part of all the splendor and the drama of the ballet so badly — but a dancer, I was not. My mother took me to the theater to see Frog and Toad when I was about 6 and mic drop — that was it. The arts are so very crucial at an early age because they develop curiosity, empathy and whole little human beings through storytelling. Whether that storytelling is done through a play, a book or a painting — it can be a game-changer.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

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