Published in the August 23, 2017 edition
By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — Kids Curtain Call Stage Productions, a theatrical group for children ages 4 through 13, is about to celebrate its 40th year and owner Linda Wolowicz could not be more excited.
She is looking forward to meeting her new “cast” of young actors when classes begin on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
The East Boston resident is no stranger to Wakefield. She operates one of her two locations at the Wakefield/Lynnfield United Methodist Church on Vernon Street. Her other location is in Winthrop.
As in previous years, students who participate in the 2017-2018 season no matter what age will receive a speaking part in a two-hour musical titled “Memories for a Lifetime” scheduled to go up next May. The production will honor Wolowicz’s 40th year, and as part of the celebration she plans to invite alumni to be part of the performance. After the show, she will serve slices of a beautifully decorated cake to bring the event to a close.
While looking back on her 40 years as a theatrical instructor, Wolowicz talked about some of the techniques she developed for basic acting skills, all the while ensuring that the children were enjoying themselves.
“They’ve always loved getting lollipops, marshmallows and gummy bears that serve as aids in the articulation of words,” Wolowicz said, then added with a smile, “And they get to eat the candy.”
During each one-hour class, the young actors first work on singing for 15 or 20 minutes. The remainder of class time focuses on choreography, speaking lines and confidence building.
“Confidence is the number one aspect of acting that needs to be developed,” she said. “It’s something each student can take with them after a program has ended.” She continued, saying that acting in a musical involves many skills.
“The kids don’t focus on only one thing for the entire hour,” she said. “The methods I use keep the children from being bored.”
Though she has does not have a formal education in writing, in her 40 years of teaching she has authored 11 plays.
“I consider it a gift,” she said. Her topics have included outer space, tropical islands, haunted houses and the circus, among others.
Wolowicz informs the parents of her students that she won’t make their children stars, but she does guarantee that they’ll “feel like a million bucks” when they leave the stage.
Former student and Stoneham resident Sara Zavarelli is now 26 years old, but she can still recall with clarity the fun she had while working with Wolowicz.
“We had some family friends who participated in Kids Curtain Call,” she commented. “They told my mom about it and thought I would love to be involved.”
In the blink of an eye, Zavarelli was enrolled.
She recalled that Wolowicz divided the children into two different groups: One for pre-school to middle school students and another for older students.
“Linda Wolowicz involved every class member in the performances and each member had speaking lines, dealt with props and were involved in every scene and dance,” said Zavarelli. “Every year she alternated who would be a lead. No one was ever left out.”
Wolowicz impacted Zavarelli’s life tremendously when she was a child and beyond.
“I was very shy,” she explained. “I was the kid who hid behind a parent’s leg when out in public.”
Zavarelli clearly remembers that Wolowicz and the kids in her class were extremely welcoming.
“She gave me one word to say, but only if I wanted to,” Zavarelli recalled. “She never forced me to say a line or sing and dance to a song if I didn’t want to.
I just hid under a table and watched the kids practice and she let me do that.”
Before long, Wolowicz cast Zavarelli in a lead role, and she was singing solos and reciting lines that were a paragraph long.
“I always worked at my own pace, not Linda’s,” she said.
As an adult, Zavarelli can now confidently sing and speak in front of a room full of people, and she gives Wolowicz all the credit.
“The amount of patience she displayed with a room full of rambunctious kids week after week proves what type of person she is,” she commented. “I strive to be like her.”
Though she no longer participates in theatrical productions, Zavarelli returns to Kids Curtain Call Stage Productions every May when the curtain goes up.
“I never miss show week and always go back to help out that entire weekend and reminisce with everyone else who goes back to help, too. Linda can never get rid of us,” Zavarelli laughed. “These people are so very special to me, and I am so grateful she brought us all together. Over the generations, Linda Wolowicz has inspired creativity, passion and unforgettable fun into the lives of many children and teenagers, including mine.”
Kids Curtain Call Stage Productions classes will be held after school from 4 to 8 p.m. Lessons are $14 per week with an initial $65 registration fee. Tryouts are not required and experience is not necessary. Roles in performances are guaranteed for all students. For more information, call 617-480-8119.