Just Six Hours a Year: Live Performance and a Child’s Imagination

How Summer Stage has Transported My Child to Magical Places

By Stacy Moscotti

Summer Stage alum and mom to Olivia

As someone who grew up performing at Summer Stage, I was so excited at the thought of having children and taking them to see Summer Stage shows. When I had my first child, I could barely wait to take to her first Children’s Theatre show. I wanted that hallowed ground of the Upper Darby

Stacy Moscotti and Kathy Moscotti with 3 month old
Stacy Moscotti and Kathy Moscotti with 3 month old Olivia

Performing Arts Center to be as meaningful to her as it was to me. No pressure, right??? I mean, it didn’t matter that she was 3 months old at the time – I now had a child so she was now going to see the Summer Stage shows. I remember tearing up holding her as “Magic Up Our Sleeve” started. I practically held her up a la the Lion King – it was such a Circle of Life moment! She slept through the show, so it was a lot more meaningful to me than her, but she was there.

Since that July 2010 day, I have faithfully been taking my little Olivia to Summer Stage every summer for the last five years. I remember counting down to the summer every year and admittedly being a little disappointed when she didn’t seem to “get” it like I wanted her too. I had a lot of expectations for my one year old, then two year old, and three year old.

She began to *really* get it and really connect with what she was watching.

Last summer, however, when she was 4, everything began to transform. She began to *really* get it and really connect with what she was watching. She developed connections, attachments and relationships with the characters. And she clapped for them. This was a huge milestone that I had been waiting for!

Her absolute favorite part was meeting the cast after the show. It’s incredible to watch my child’s imagination completely forget that these are kids she knows and sees, and instead completely embrace that this IS Willy Wonka, and Freckleface Strawberry, and Ariel. She truly BELIEVES they are who they portray. She loves getting “autographs”, the physical proof of connecting with the characters.

Meeting Elsa after the show!
Meeting Elsa after the show!

Meeting Elsa last year was literally the highlight of my daughter’s life. Since that July evening, we’ve seen many more Elsas here and there at parties and fairs, but Olivia always says, “That’s ok, Mommy. I don’t need to meet Elsa again. I already met the real one at Summer Stage.”

Perhaps my biggest moment of realizing how deeply Summer Stage had impacted my daughter came not during the summer but seven months later. Olivia and I LOVED last year’s Mainstage show Shrek. Olivia was THRILLED to meet Shrek, and Fiona, and particularly Donkey, portrayed brilliantly by Devon Fields. Flash forward to March 2015, this year, and Olivia and I are watching Shrek the Musical on Netflix. My daughter turns to me when Donkey is singing and says, “You know, that’s my friend. Donkey’s my friend.”

How absolutely magical for my child. How wonderful as a parent to witness.

This summer, meeting 'Tink!"
Meeting ‘Tink” this summer

That’s the importance of instilling live theatre in our children. It triggers the imagination like no other medium. It hits so many of their senses so vividly. They are engaged, not checked out.

My daughter does not have the same connection to what she watches on TV or in the movies. She does not constantly talk about how excited she is to watch “Littlest Pet Shop” on TV. She talks about how she can’t wait for just six hours a year. That’s all it is. Six hours a year and she gets transported to these magical places that she will remember forever. That’s the importance of instilling live theatre in our children. It triggers the imagination like no other medium. It hits so many of their senses so vividly. They are engaged, not checked out.

So now, I’ve got what I wished for. My child asks me every day, “Is it time for Summer Stage yet?” The magic is passed on to another generation.

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