CHEVERLY – With the help of a generous grant from the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation, children who attend Title I elementary schools in Prince George’s County are able to attend shows at The Prince George’s Publick Playhouse for the Performing Arts for free. “Children who would otherwise never get the opportunity to go to the theatre […]
CHEVERLY – With the help of a generous grant from the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation, children who attend Title I elementary schools in Prince George’s County are able to attend shows at The Prince George’s Publick Playhouse for the Performing Arts for free.
“Children who would otherwise never get the opportunity to go to the theatre get to come out and they just love it so much,” said Jenna Ward, assistant managing director of the Publick Playhouse.
The Publick Playhouse is a 494 seat venue dedicated to performance, music, dance, art and theatre.
Originally opened as the Cheverly Theatre in 1947, the theatre was popular until into the 1960s, when it eventually closed. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission restored and reopened the playhouse in 1977, according to the Playhouse’s website. It is one of two surviving Art Deco theatres in Prince George’s County.
For the past four years, GEICO sponsorship has made it possible for low-income and at-risk children to experience art and culture without relying on parents to provide funding, said Suzi Hoffman, the Publick Playhouse’s special projects coordinator.
The GEICO-sponsored programs explore important themes like math, government, anti-bullying, African-American history and healthy lifestyle choices. Staff members at the playhouse have designed study guides to accompany almost all of their matinee shows in an effort to engage both the learning and entertainment aspects of theatre.
“It’s gotten tougher for teachers to justify field trips so we try to have the information they need available to them so they can see how the shows will fit into their lesson plans,” Ward said.
Ward hopes making these materials accessible to teachers will ensure students take more away from the programs than simply laughs and smiles.
“I believe very passionately in the power of the arts to transform lives,” she said.
For every one of the eight shows in the GEICO series this upcoming season, children will be greeted at the doors of the Playhouse by the GEICO Gecko.
“They come in with these wide eyes and just ask lots of questions about the shows,” Ward said.
The Playhouse also offers programs geared toward all other ages, including a platinum series for seniors aged 60 and up.
“We typically sell out all our weekend shows,” Ward said, adding the season opener on Saturday, Oct. 11 has already sold out.
Ward encourages residents to check out the venue’s schedule to see what the upcoming season holds. One of the shows she is most excited for is a performance by Rennie Harris Puremovement on Oct. 24-25.
“They have this way of representing that hip-hop breaks down stereotypes. It’s very appealing to young people,” she said.
Thursday, September 25, 10:15am & 12 noon: Curious George Matinee
Wednesday, October 8, 10:15 am & 12 noon: The Wright Stuff: First in Flight Matinee
Saturday, October 11, 8 pm: The Chi-Lites and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
Thursday, October 23, 12 pm: Rennie Harris Puremovement: History of Hip Hop
Thursday, November 6, 7 pm: Philadanco Master Class: Modern Dance Workshop