By Melissa Walsh
For Rebecca Perry, teaching drama and musical theatre is more than a career choice. It’s a passion that she was destined to follow from the time she was a child. So it was no surprise when she went into teaching singing, dance and drama and then eventually opened her own school, Broadway Academy.
“Not a family gathering would pass by when I didn’t organise some form of show for the grown-ups in the household,” said Rebecca, who is thrilled to have been able to make a difference to children’s lives through the theatre. “One of the best feelings is when a child pushes through their nerves to achieve something wonderful. Be it a solo, show-stopping song or a single line performed with confidence. In all the years of teaching singing, dance and drama, it is these unique, breakthrough moments that inspire me.”
For Rebecca, the philosophy is simple: offer the opportunity for each child to experience top quality theatre and watch the magic unfold.
“It is just incredible to watch each child’s confidence grow as they experience the thrill of performing in a real stage show and come out of their shell,” said Rebecca, who opened Broadway Academy on the peninsula in 2011. “With a wonderful team behind me, our mission is not necessarily to produce professional performers but to create magical experience for children that inspire them to become their best self. Musical theatre is the vehicle for doing that which is something I noticed while I was teaching for many years.”
Rebecca says it is all about transformation.
“Our favourite thing is when a parent comes to us and says their child was so shy months before and now they have come out of their shell. This is something that happens all the time and becomes part of the magical experience of using their imagination. We are very conscious of the effect our decisions can make on the children’s self-esteem and we even take that into account in regards to casting,” said Rebecca.
After working in the industry as a performer doing weddings, theatre and TV roles, a teacher and now running Broadway Academy, Rebecca has seen firsthand the implications a theatre experience can have on children and says it is so much more than learning to sing and act.
“Our teachers put a lot of thought into involving all the kids and being respectful, giving them plenty of choices to take part in different aspects of the productions. They can go for a main part or the ensemble or work behind the scenes. We also have a Broadway leadership program where their focus is to work closely with those children who need a bit of extra help.”
Broadway Academy is a theatrical school for children aged prep to year 12, giving children every opportunity to develop in the performer and person they want to be.
“Musical theatre is unique in that there is so much variety. In every class your young performer will experience dance skills and choreography, drama games, acting exercises and singing training; a wonderful blend of activities to develop not just performance abilities but life skills,” said Rebecca. “Although we’ve done many shows over the years, it is your children’s ‘lightbulb’ moments we teachers witness behind the curtain that keeps us doing what we do.”
Broadway Academy runs classes in Frankston, Tyabb and Mornington.
“We choose our venues carefully to make sure the children feel comfortable,” said Rebecca, a mum of three children who also attend the classes. “Having my own children there is wonderful and they all love being involved. I have found juggling motherhood and running two businesses easier thanks to technology. I am also a contract worker for Studio Expansion, helping to mentor how to run successful businesses so I do a lot of work from home and online, conferencing and liaising with ballet and music schools. “
For Rebecca and her husband it was important, once the children were born, to have one parent at home more often.
”My husband and I were both school teachers and we both wanted to work so have got the perfect balance with me doing most of my work from home, apart from when I am at the Broadway Academy,” said Rebecca, who also developed an all-inclusive fee system to make theatre classes more accessible to all.
“I think every child should have the opportunity to learn theatre skills so we have an all-inclusive payment system where there are no surprise charges.”
To find out more about Broadway Academy to go www.broadwayacademy.com.au