HITS Theatre Now Offering Virtual Classes
The outbreak of Covid-19 severely impacted HITS Theatre, like all local arts organizations, but HITS has already adapted by taking its educational programming online. In March, the theatre school redeployed its staff to create web-based curriculum. The HITS Theatre Board of Directors made a commitment to take care of their employees and teaching artists, and unlike actions taken by many arts organizations, no employees were furloughed. The management team, led by Artistic Director Adam Wagner and Managing Director Troy Lubbers, are equally committed to keeping HITS teaching artists working and providing services to our students and community. "We'll be teaching acting, singing and dancing technique and offering weekly scheduled 'live' meet-ups via Zoom," HITS Theatre's Artistic Director, Adam Wagner, informed HITS students and parents on March 25. HITS even launched a new, virtual class called DANCIN' TOTS. This live, interactive Zoom workshop develops motor skills, coordination, and dance basics while introducing little stars to the wonderful world of dance! All sessions are free but require registration through HITStheatre.org.
Located in the Houston Heights, HITS Theatre was founded in 1980 and quickly became a neighborhood treasure. It has long been recognized as a leading performing arts education organization for youth in and around Houston. HITS Theatre currently has four employees and ~12 contractors providing artistic teaching to students throughout the Houston area. HITS Theatre serves approximately 1,000 K-12 students annually through after school and in-school outreach programs. HITS presents roughly 50 performances in its 120-seat theater each year, in addition to producing a full-scale Broadway musical at Miller Outdoor Theatre each Spring that reaches 20,000-25,000 attendees each year.
HITS Theatre cancelled performances of Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical due to city mandates, its 33rd annual Broadway-caliber Spring production at Miller Outdoor Theatre, mere days away from tech week. "We partner with the City of Houston and Miller Outdoor Theatre each year to make this family-friendly Broadway-style production free of charge. Our goal each year is to improve access to the arts and cancelling for the first time in 33 years has been incredibly disappointing," HITS Theatre Board of Directors member, Kathleen Reynolds, said on March 27.
"HITS will continue to provide you with the quality classes, instructors, community, and learning you've come to count on the best way we can," Wagner said. PRODUCTION CLASSES are set up for students to practice acting, singing, and dancing skills through a traditional rehearsal process for a full production of an age-appropriate musical. A professional creative team supports each class, guiding the students through character development and proper vocal/acting techniques while strengthening motor skills and social-emotional learning. Though "traditional rehearsal" is no longer an option because of the Covid-19 crisis, cancellation of classes has been averted by moving to Zoom for lessons and activities revolving around the familiar material the students studied during the semester. Grades K through 5 embark on a journey to Europe in Getting to Know... The Sound of Music. For grades 6 through 12, students tackle the dark comedy Heathers the Musical: High School Edition, a high-energy show that opens conversations about important issues, including bullying, teen suicide, and violence in schools. MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP CLASSES on Saturdays will continue over Zoom for students to receive dedicated "triple threat" training in each of the musical theatre disciplines: acting, singing, and dancing.
Instead of costuming the Spring shows, HITS Theatre is grateful for our loyal and award-winning Costumer, Kristin Knipp, for making and donating masks made from old costumes. Masks are made with left-over fabric from past productions, including Lion King, Into the Woods, Mary Poppins the Musical, Shrek the Musical , and many other favorites. She is also making headbands with buttons for donation to relieve the pressure of masks on health workers' ears. Donations are being distributed by the efforts of Joann Fabrics. HITS Theatre also donated 12 N95 face masks to a Houston Methodist hospital worker. Every mask is crucial because it may save many lives. If you have N95 masks in your closet or garage space, please consider making a donation to any local healthcare facility.
While suffering financially due to the pandemic, HITS is maintaining its programming through this international response to the COVID-19 crisis. Registration is open for Virtual Lessons and additional upcoming online courses to keep musical theater skills in great shape will continue to be announced. This tuition revenue helps keep the beloved teaching artists earning income during a very uncertain time for most theater professionals and theaters. To help with their mission, donations can be made by texting HITS40 to 44-321.