Elkins Rotary members not only experienced a skit by the Old Brick Playhouse Apprentices Monday, but also heard from owner Missy McCollam about the program. McCollam established the Old Brick Playhouse in 1992 in Elkins, where she wanted to return to and be with family.
The mission of the Old Brick Playhouse is to enrich the lives of children, youth and adults in West Virginia by engaging them in the arts, teaching self-expression and encouraging positive change. McCollam said the apprenticeship program began with 20 students who helped paint and clean.
"These apprentices are the backbone of the Old Brick Playhouse theater," McCollam said. "They bring fresh new ideas and give our theater a soul."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Old Brick Playhouse Apprentices dance, sing and serve hot chocolate to Elkins Rotary members Monday. Rotarians heard from Old Brick Playhouse owner Missy McCollam as she recounts the history of the program as well as the benefits for the students. Devan Collins and Jaden Reams, above, help perform a skit used on the Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad Polar Express called “Hot Chocolate.”
McCollam said the apprenticeship program attracts 80 to 90 participants each year, and one year, more than 100 students were in the program.
It offers after school education where the group works on a mainstage production as well as weekly 60-second seminars.
"The 60-second seminars may include topics like 'how to say no and not make people mad,' what to say in an interview, how to answer a phone and many other valuable bits of useful information,"
McCollam said. "The group serves as mentors for the elementary school program, helping them learn to read better and also a chance to work with the Polar Express. It provides them a chance to list a professional internship with Warner Brothers on their resumes."
The Old Brick Playhouse offers regular after-school programs that provide a safe and positive environment for elementary and secondary school students to explore the arts.
"One of the most positive statements by Warner Brothers when they rode the Polar Express was the atmosphere is like a real family," McCollam said.
The Polar Express not only served as an arts incubator for Old Brick Apprentice students and an employment opportunity to local actors, but also contributed to a boost in the area's economic tourism.