By Courtney Collins
A newly formed theater troupe in Lorton, Va., brings musicals to home-schooled children, and they learn a lot more on stage than singing and choreography.
More than 40 children will take the stage Jan. 21 and 22 in a full production of "Willy Wonka Junior." It's not a school musical, and it;s not community theater. Children in the Northern Virginia Players are all home-schooled.
"Home-schooled children don't get the opportunity to participate in theater, so we think this is a very important outlet for them," says Co-Director Kate Wittig.
Wittig says sharing the stage builds confidence and teaches children to depend on each other. Being a part of this production also means social interaction.
Ten-year-old AJ Suess and 9-year-old Jayne Zirkle say their fellow cast members made a great experience even greater.
"It's great to meet new people, have new friends," Suess says.
"Well it's educational first of all, and it promotes good social skills," says Zirkle.
As for the critics who say home-schooled children don't get a well-rounded educational experience, parents say watching just one rehearsal would cure anyone of that prejudice.