Bay Area school children treated to free performance of Snow White

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For 85 years, the women of the Children's Theatre Association of San Francisco have been acting, singing and dancing for San Francisco public and parochial school children.

This year, Children's Theatre has started their run of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There are more than 150 CTA members, who volunteer their time to build sets, create costumes and perform for 6,000 school children every year.

"I did a show in 1957 when I was a teenager," said Gail Anderson who has been a member of CTA for most of her life and plays a Dwarf in this year's production. "Performing for the children of San Francisco, when they don't have a chance to see live theater or certainly musical theater, is a real privilege."

That's CTA's mission: to provide live musical theatre for school children who might not otherwise experience it.

"It was so cool," exclaimed a first grade boy from Glen Park Elementary. Many students in the class had never seen a theater performance and all of them said they preferred the musical to watching TV. Their teacher, Michelle Ferraz, has been taking her students to CTA productions for ten years. "I enjoy going to the theater myself and I think it's really important that students have the opportunity to experience live performances." Ferraz is using this year's play to teach a lesson about perspective, "how stories can change, depending on who's telling it."

The women spend months rehearsing their scenes and songs which are accompanied by Bill Keck on the keyboard, who has been the musical director for Beach Blanket Babylon and CTA for 25 years. "There's a lot of similarity because what you want is to energize the audience, you want them to feel connected and feel like they're being given a great gift," said Keck.

Shelli Semler plays Snow White and has been a member of CTA for 14 years. "I love the camaraderie of the women that I perform with. It's really magical." Semler adds that the annual musical production is a San Francisco tradition. "It's so wonderful to see these children start at five years old or four and they still come to our shows when they're 9 or 10 and sometimes they even come back as teenagers or when they're home from college."

In order to fund the free performances for schools during the week, the general public is invited to attend weekend performances with the purchase of a ticket. Ticket prices are $18 for Adults and $15 for children under 18. If the child is under 2 and can sit on an adult's lap, there is no charge. The upcoming Saturday performances are on February 9th and 23rd and March 2nd at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is an additional 10:30 a.m. performance on March 16th.
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