Republished from Vero Beach 32963 | by Christina Tascon
Children and their parents stopped by Riverside Children’s Theatre and its surrounding grounds last Saturday to receive important school information and enjoy plenty of great entertainment at RT Star’s Back to School Party. Co-hosted by Riverside Theatre and the Education Foundation of Indian River County, the event was a festive way to encourage kids to get excited about the start of the new school year.
Heidi Waxlax, Riverside’s board president, was front and center, manning a booth where children could spin a wheel to win fun prizes, including free tickets to Poodleful, an upcoming RCT musical.
“Riverside Theatre and the Education Foundation have the same goal,” said Waxlax. “We both want to educate children. It is important for the kids to get introduced to theater early and make it part of their life.”
“I wanted Cynthia to partner with us for a back-to-school event modeled from the RT Star’s Big Birthday Party, which launches in the summer,” said Riverside Managing Director Jon Moses, who had approached Cynthia Falardeau, Education Foundation executive director, with the idea. “For this event we wanted to involve all the county school services, for it to be informational as well as fun for the kids, and to get the kids excited about going back.”
From the bounce house out front to entertainment held on the outdoor stage, children and parents were having a blast while gathering some important information about the upcoming school year. Representatives passed out freebies and literature on a wide variety of services and initiatives, and enjoyed hot dogs, making crafts and boogying with Marine Bank’s Mariner Pete at DJ Dance Parties. Youngsters also had the opportunity to sign up for RCT children’s programs, after envisioning themselves joining some of the past and present students who were performing on stage.
Cynthia Bardes, author of Pansy at the Palace: A Beverly Hills Mystery, was kept busy by her young fans, signing copies of her children’s book, the third in a picture book series about Pansy, a poodle rescued from an animal shelter. The new musical production, Poodleful, adapted from the book by Ken Clifton, Riverside’s Musical Director, is scheduled to open at RCT Sept. 18 to 20 before moving on to the Lyric Theatre in Stuart.
“Ken’s music is unbelievable. It really is Broadway ready and so professionally done,” said Bardes. “The books show kids that anybody with curiosity, perseverance and friendship can succeed. Everyone matters. They show kids that you don’t have to be anyone but yourself to be loved.”
Radio announcer Bob Soos and new Indian River County School Superintendent Mark Rendell were on hand as well, successfully matching wits with students in an on-stage version of Are You Smarter than a School Child?
“Some of the questions were tough and I did feel some pressure,” laughed Rendell afterward, adding that he has found the community to be incredible. “Every time I turn around there is another community agency or group that wants to help support the schools. An event like this is a good signal to the students that we all care about their education and are here to give our time because it is important to all of us.”