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If you’re in the Orlando area with your family, a visit to the Orlando Rep Theatre is a must. I recently attended a behind the scenes blogger breakfast courtesy of the Orlando Rep and learned what makes this a perfect addition to your travels to Orlando.
I received a courtesy showing and behind the scenes tour of the Orlando Rep, however, all opinions are my own.
All photos courtesy of The Orlando Rep
Culture in Orlando
The Orlando Rep, short for Orlando Repertory Theatre, has been creating quality theatre that enlightens, enriches, and entertains young audiences since 2003. That’s their mission statement and they live up to every word in that sentence.
And while it’s been the Orlando Repertory Theatre since 2003, the theatre itself has been around since 1926, with an emphasis on entertaining children. (That’s long before Walt came to town!)
When I first moved to Orlando, I didn’t find a lot of culture in the area. It was 1996, and I’m sure it was there, I just didn’t know what existed where. I missed the live theatre experience and performances that you can’t get anywhere else.
Fast forward 15 years and I have experienced all that the area theaters had to offer through my children’s eyes. At the time, the Orlando Rep hosted a Theatre festival and I brought my kids to try on costumes, play with instruments, and see a live performance.
Of course, being a performer myself, I always seek out ways for them to experience live theatre. However, not everyone thinks to take in a live show. Plus, not every show or theatre is appropriate for young audiences.
Enter the Orlando Repertory Theatre.
During my hosted visit with the organization, I learned there are few professional, all young audience theatres in the country. And this one happens to be the only one in the state of Florida.
Theatre for Young Audiences
Theatre for young audiences, TYA for short, is more than what you might consider “children’s theatre.” Jeff Revels, the artistic director for the Rep says they choose shows that not just entertain the children, but ensures that they don’t choose shows that “dumb down” content for the children. He says,
It is important to select material and content in shows that value every young person as an equal, sentient, worthy of exacting standards audience member. Children are more than capable of understanding complex stories and can appreciate subtleties of messages of the shows as well. We speak to young people like they are simply people. A child can jump from A to C and fill in the blanks themselves; we need not prescribe everything as if they have just been dropped off on this planet on day one. They are an honest audience and demand an honest performance. That’s what is in mind with every production I select and produce at Orlando REP.
He states that choosing shows is not a science, but he does consider what’s popular with the youth audiences. They ensure that they choose at least one show for the 4-5 age range and one for tweens on up. However, every show is extremely professional.
While this is a theatre for young audiences, the cast is made up of both adults and children, as appropriate.
I’ve had the good fortune to attend many of the shows that the Rep offers. Without a doubt, they are of high quality, entertaining, exceptional entertainment. Plus, they cost a fraction of the price you’d find for Broadway touring shows, yet provide a value that is just as tangible.
Additionally, the Rep offers sensory friendly and ASL performances. This is a fantasic way to see a show if you have a child wth special needs.
Even if you don’t have young children, the Orlando Rep offers performances of shows that all ages will enjoy. Elf, Newsies, A Christmas Story, and Seussical all come to mind.
If you’re visiting Orlando, or live in the area, plan a visit to the Orlando Rep. You will not be disappointed.