Kids look forward to acting up at Old Brick

What better way to conquer cabin fever than delving into a world of imagination at the Old Brick Playhouse in Elkins? Take a break from subzero weather with visions of kings, queens, knights, princesses, castles and dragons.

Now in it’s 12th year, Acting Up Literally, an acting class for elementary school students, begins this Tuesday from 4-5 p.m. Initially created through collaboration between the Old Brick Playhouse and the Verizon Foundation, Acting Up couples literacy training with play production using a mentor-based curriculum.

Elementary school students attend weekly workshops afterschool where they receive a snack and then begin preparing a main stage production for performance in the spring. Old Brick Playhouse secondary school apprentices serve as mentors for younger students, guiding them through the basics of play production through improvisation, role playing, music, dance, building things and playing all sorts of exciting games.

“We aim to captivate our student’s interest by encouraging them to help create their own character onstage. We get them involved in designing costumes and set pieces while prompting them to read their scripts as text,” states Old Brick Playhouse Executive Director Missy Armentrout McCollam.

“Sometimes students who don’t like to sit and read, flourish when asked to read as part of a stage production. But, no matter what, our students hone their public speaking skills, and creativity, while spending a great deal of time reading and having fun we laugh a lot”

The culmination of the project is a main-stage production showcasing each student’s newly learned skills. Years after the Verizon Foundation could no longer fund this project, the Armstrong Foundation, the Snowshoe Foundation, and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts showed an energetic interest in the program and each provided much need support.

This year’s sponsors include the Armstrong Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. Due to this support, Acting Up Literally is free of charge to any third, fourth or fifth grader wishing to participate.

“Our main objective is to get students used to being comfortable onstage and, of course, to have fun,” points out Old Brick Assistant Director Phil Smith, “and inevitably we see an increase in each actor’s self-esteem during the process.”

Enrollment is mandatory for Acting Up Literally and students are registered on a first-come, first-served basis with limited positions. For more information or to enroll your son or daughter, please phone the Old Brick at 304-637-9090 or e-mail