Kids introduced to Opera House

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Among the memories of growing up in McHenry County should be a trip to the Opera House, say those involved with the Woodstock Fine Arts Association.

The group of volunteers hosts annual and sometimes bi-annual events for school-age children to experience both the Opera House and educational entertainment, including art, music and theater.

Their latest effort brings ComedySportz Chicago to town, with show times at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Opera House, 121 E. Van Buren St.

With the Children's Programming Committee of the Woodstock Fine Arts Association contributing to reduce the price, tickets cost $4 each.

The event is geared toward grades 5 through 8, although adults are invited to attend. Children from various local schools are bused to the shows, while volunteers greet them and help chaperone.

"Our hope and interest is to have children see a performance at the historic Opera House," committee chairwoman Joyce Lande said. "Some of them might not have an opportunity to go to the Opera House, so we're trying to make it fun and affordable and educational."

ComedySportz is an improv comedy troupe in which teams of actors compete, with seconds to put ideas into motion. Given themes, the teams build their skits around topics students can relate to, Lande said.

Issues such as peer pressure, bullying and self-esteem often are addressed through games and songs. Audience members vote on the team they believe best performed the themes given to them.

"Students get a taste of what improv is all about," Lande said.

Through the Children's Programming Committee, which has been providing events since 1961, programs encourage children in public, private and home schools to appreciate and support the arts, organizers say.

The events are geared toward various age ranges that rotate annually. Next year, the program likely will target Pre-K through second-graders, Lande said.

The group also would like to bring more programs into the schools themselves to perhaps make them more affordable.

Organizers meet every year with school administrators and faculty.

"We want their input so we can provide programs that meet their needs," Lande said.

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