After operating out of their home in Sullivan for 21 years, Rob and Lorrie Gray, co-founders of Children’s Stage Adventures, have moved the nonprofit educational theater company into a new space in the Silk Mill building at 160 Emerald St. in Keene.
The organization — which normally offers weeklong residencies in which professional actors travel to schools throughout New England to cast, produce and present a musical — has also adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering virtual programs.
“Once COVID hit, we can’t really travel to schools any more, at least not right now, because schools are not allowing outside artists or vendors into their buildings, and we totally understand that,” Rob Gray said.
So, this week, Children’s Stage Adventures offered its first-ever virtual residency at South School in Andover, Mass., where 4th- and 5th-graders are rehearsing and performing via Zoom “The Fisherman and His Wife,” which is based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Gray and his teaching partner will record the students’ performances, and an editor will piece the show together, before Children’s Stage Adventure hosts virtual watch parties after Thanksgiving.
“So instead of the kids all gathering to put on their performance for their parents and grandparents, we will have links available to them for a certain amount of time, so they can watch it or buy a DVD of their show,” Gray said.
Children’s Stage Adventures, which has conducted more than 1,000 of these residencies in schools, typically brings everything ranging from costumes and sets to lighting systems to the schools themselves, Gray said.
Over the past 20 years, the group has stored all of these materials for the 10 shows they produce in the Grays’ attic or in barns owned by members of the organization’s board of directors — one in Keene and one in Concord. After moving into the new space in Keene on Oct. 10, all of this equipment is now in one place, Gray said.