Berkeley Playhouse

Community Subscriber
Berkeley, CA
Operated By: 
Berkeley Playhouse
Ages: 
Kinder, School-Aged, Preteens, Teens
Capacity: 
28 participants
Email: 
marycait [at] berkeleyplayhouse.org
Phone: 
510.845.8542 x379

Dive into the world of theatre arts with Berkeley Playhouse’s award-winning program. Start your dramatic exploration with our afterschool enrichment program or hone your skills in our more intensive training program.

Parent Q&A

Bay Area Children's Theater vs Berkeley Playhouse Apr 23, 2019 (1 responses below)
Any recent review on the Summer Camp at Berkeley Playhouse Feb 6, 2019 (2 responses below)
  • Hi all, 

    My 14 year old is looking for a musical theater summer performance opportunity and we came upon two in the East bay. BACT is offering a 3 week camp that culminates in a show and Berkeley playhouse has a month long rehearsal schedule. She is looking more a of professional musical theater environment for the summer versus a fun camp. If you know of either and can let me know pros and cons in terms of production qualities and where she can grow more as a performer, I would appreciate it. She is not a novice performer.

    thank you so much!

    Greetings!

    My daughter has been involved with both organizations for several years and performs at a high level. She has attended the four week summer program at BP and performs with the competitive team at BACT. When she goes to rehearsal, she wants to focus and work hard, and thrives around similarly minded people. I will do my best to give you a balanced view. Even though we love them so much, our bias may be obvious.  

    BACT Teen Camp for kids entering 8th-12th grades is comparable to the TeenStage Program at BP. Both will result in full length productions on a professional stage (Osher and Julia Morgan, respectively).  

    In both cases, there is less “playtime” the older the students are. I found that my daughter played more in her younger days, and in non-core classes.

    The program is taught by an extremely talented group of people who are really great with kids. This is a tight community and it's heartwarming to see how much they support each other as actors and educators.

     

    BACT

    Although there is time for the kids to build friendships and bond, as you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to put on a full length production in such a short period of time.  They work with voice teachers, choreographers, and acting coaches, who are so good at bringing out the best in every kid. They work extremely hard and are rewarded accordingly.

    Given that teens have a lot of choices, I would whole heartedly enroll my daughter in this camp (if she did not have a prior out of state commitment). BACT stage productions are typically an hour, so this is an exciting opportunity to be involved in a full length production. I know that extra extra special care will be given to this class, which may include a few surprises along the way. This is a new camp for BACT, and I have no doubt that this will be an exhilarating and challenging experience for actors.

     BP

    Similar comments for BP. If you are looking at it as an option for Summer 2019, it may be a bit more complicated. As you may know, BP summer program application forms for their Youth Stage productions were due on January 30th and there are a number of prerequisites to consider. The program and waitlist fill quickly.

    Which One? 

    The biggest difference between these two companies is stylistic. In terms of exposure to high level instructors, being technically challenged, growing as an actor, stage time, and exposure to industry professionals, neither program will disappoint. If you are looking for an opportunity this summer, I would encourage you to apply/look at the BACT program

    https://bactheatre.org/classes/summer19/oaklandteen

    Good Luck!

  • My child is incoming K, and she loves performing on stage, so I want to sign her up for a 2-week camp at Berkeley Playhouse this summer.  Does anyone have experience with it and is she too young to learn theater/drama?  Thanks    

    Our daughter participated in their Lion King summer program last year (just after her 1st grade year) and absolutely loved it! She says she can’t wait to go again this year.  Overall I was impressed with the attentive staff and by how engaged the students were throughout the day. They put on an awesome show as well. Hope this helps! 

    My son did a week there just before starting kindergarten in 2016 (which isn't all that recent, I guess). I was really impressed with what they got out of those pre-literate kids in just a week--and how much fun they had doing it! 

Parent Reviews

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I highly recommend Berkeley Playhouse located at the Julia Morgan theater on College Ave. in Berkeley. I'm the first, but I'm sure I won't be the last person to suggest them. Excellent program, very kid focused.

My daughter has been very pleased with Berkeley Playhouse and with ACT San Francisco's Teen Conservatory. She's experienced good camaraderie and training in both. Both have classes as well as performance opportunities. We like how Berkeley Playhouse double-casts their productions so that more kids get experience with leading roles as well as ensemble work. ACT has a more diverse group of participants, but not by much. ACT also has more intellectually interesting material, if your son is interested in non-musical theater. Both are easy to reach via public transit. I've heard good things about (but don't have first-hand experience with) Youth Musical Theater Company in Berkeley, by Aquatic Park. It is for youth from 7th grade through university who are serious about theater. I recommend your son attend performances produced the various organizations, to give him an idea of the caliber and material of the productions as well as caliber of fellow actors. That's what solidified my daughter's choices. Lastly, Berkeley Rep has youth education programs. My daughter hasn't taken classes there since 1st grade, but the teen options look great for youth in high school. Have fun on this journey!

My daughter has had a good experience with Berkeley Playhouse, but they do seem to play favorites a bit in regard to casting.  But, the production value is high and friendly and supportive rapport among the kids.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Summer Camp


Sept 2013

My 9 year old daughter has done 2 to 4 weeks of camp at Berkeley Playhouse for the past 4 years, and loves it. It runs from 9-3 every day. In each camp the kids learn, and on the last day perform, a mini-version (how mini depends upon the grade level) of whatever show is on the mainstage at the time -- so this past summer it was The Wiz. Many times the counselors are also actors in that mainstage production; the older kids even get to use the mainstage set. The theater chooses pieces that the kids can run as an ensemble -- that is, shows where everybody's on stage almost the whole time, vs. shows with a few lucky leads then various supporting figures -- more fun for every camper. It's great for boys and girls, as besides the acting and singing and dancing the kids learn how to stage falling down, fights of various sorts as required by the script, sound effects, and so forth. They also spend some time work-shopping the back-stories of the characters (from a fun, Berkeleyian perspective). My daughter comes home delighted and exhausted -- they're moving around most of the day it seems -- with stories about all her new friends, and brimming with new-found self-confidence and skills. OAK mom


Feb 2010

I'm interested in hearing about your child's experience at Berkeley Playhouse Summer Camp for 3rd-5th graders. Did you find the 3 or 4 week session engaging for that length of time? Was that long enough to put on a successful performance? How are relationships between the campers managed? (Drama camp can bring on drama....) My daughter has attended (and enjoyed!) Stage Door's camp for younger kids - Kids on Stage. But now that it's time for her to move up to the older group, I am reluctant to commit to six weeks of one camp, not to mention wary of some of the group dynamics. - Mom who wants a funs and varied summer for her kids...


Last year, our 1st grader attended Berkeley Playhouse's summer camp. The theme was Peter Pan. Our son LOVED it. It was only one week which, for his age was probably perfect although I wished it had gone longer. We can't wait to sign up for the 2-wk Aladdin camp this year.

If you have ever seen any of the theater's performances you will know that they are professional at what they do. Even their youth productions have high production value and the kids have an amazing time.

Just for the record, my son is very quiet and shy and can have a hard time adapting to camp. From day one, this camp was a fit, each day our son came home with art projects or stories and songs, and they performed at the end of the week.

The only catch with the camp for us is that we live in Oakland and getting there by the 3pm end time is difficult as I am a working parent. This year I will attempt to find a carpool buddy. margs


My daughter (8 years old) also did the Peter Pan summer camp last year and loved it. It was a 3-week session with a wonderful performance at the end. She had a really great time and loved the two instructors, the small size (16 children) and the varied activities. I liked how the kids ''tried on'' the different parts and had a role in deciding what part they would ultimately have. It was a fun and ''professional'' environment. All the kids were so proud and excited with the performance. She has since taken a class during the year and is signed up for the summer again. I would highly recommend the summer camp. yb


Theater Classes


April 2009

Re: Musical Theatre for 9-year-old son
I would recommend Berkeley Playhouse for a kid with the acting bug. http://www.berkeleyplayhouse.org Their summer program is apparently full, but the fall music theatre session will begin registering in late July/early August. They staged Roald Dahl's ''The BFG,'' and ''Peter Pan'' will be running July 17 through August 23 at the Ashby Stage. They have a number of other classes... I took their most recent Adult Musical Theatre class, and had a great time... it was a perfect intro to musical theatre for the parent who's realized that the kids shouldn't be the only ones getting up on stage! They've also held one ''open-mic'' night for singing (both as a group and performances by students, etc... three of the performers from ''Once on This Island'' sang pieces from other shows) at the Julia Morgan and plan to hold those every 3-4 months. A fine organization. Ross ross


Dec 2008

Re: Young Drama Queen looking for Venue
I want to recommend the Berkeley Playhouse http://www.berkeleyplayhouse.org/ They put on kid-friendly plays and also run theater classes and other programs. We went to see the BFG (based on Roald Dahl's book) with two jaded 7-year-old boys last month and it was fabulous - funny, wildly inventive, lots of great kid and teen acting. Our kids were totally transfixed the entire time, and that's saying a lot. Check out their website. I think it's a wonderful thing for kids to be able to see live theater that is fun for the parents too -- we are lucky to have this group in Berkeley! Ginger