January 23, 2017
This week, Malvern native Mindy Dougherty kicks off a new semester of Music Theatre Philly, a performing arts education studio operating for the first time out of its own studio space at 1201 Spruce St. It follows a year-long stint of operating out of Plays & Players Theater.
And while it's a sudden change for the neighborhood, for Dougherty, it's been a long time coming.
"From the time I was 3 years old in my dance studio to when I attended Rock School, and then college, I've just believed that for me, growing up in a single-parent family, it really provided an incredible backbone to my life," Dougherty told PhillyVoice.
“That’s why I do this.”
Dougherty, 38, has experience performing on Broadway (she starred in the Broadway revival of "Gypsy") and also has a master's degree in theater education from New York University. She first kicked off Music Theatre Philly in 2015 as a musical theater class out of her kids' preschool, which quickly doubled and tripled in size. Onto something, she moved to establish it as an organization, partnering with co-founder Dann Dunn along with touring Broadway companies to teach masterclasses to kids. Through the teaching program, they've since put on productions of "Annie: Kids" and a singalong version of "Matilda," both performed out of Plays & Players to sold-out crowds, featuring about 60 kids from ages 3 to 18.
Dougherty said Music Theatre Philly will feature, in its new form, about six teaching artists who put together approximately hour-long classes in jazz, tap dance, ballet, and musical theater. The idea is to create a one-stop shop for parents and their kids.
"You don’t have to drive around finding each of these all over town."
She's approached her studio's offerings from the perspective of a performer, she said, as well as a mother of two kids. The idea being that kids can learn about performing arts in an all-encompassing environment that's slightly less daunting than a traditional academic setting, and certainly more convenient for parents.
To boot, adults can hop on over to the 1,600-square-foot space to take lessons in vocal training and dance.
Classes for kids are priced at a starting point of $240 for 16 weeks, with some options extending to $300-plus. Dougherty and Dunn hope to work with the Broadway and National Touring Companies to rope in more masterclass teachers as productions continue to tour through Philly.