Young students take the Mainstage


Students posed after a class in the Mainstage program at Northern Kentucky University. Mainstage is a preparatory program to help young students learn about theater performance.

NKU prep program invites 8-14 year olds to theater classes on campus

The lights start to shine and the music begins to play, slowly the curtain begins to rise and the performers start their number. These are not your typical performers though, they are students between 8-14 years old. They have worked hard all year long, preparing for this moment when they finally take the stage.

The NKU preparatory program Mainstage helped guide these students and prepare them for their performance.

It started in September 2012 with a desire to have a theater class in the preparatory program offered at NKU. The program started as Drama-Rama, which taught students the fundamentals of acting and singing.

With such a great turn out with Drama-Rama, Heather Attar and Danielle Knox, the creators of the program, decided that in order to grow the program and to take the performers to the next level a musical theater camp was necessary. Thus Mainstage was born.

Mainstage offers students a chance to explore the world of musical theater. The class is based on singing, movement and acting. This semester’s class is performing a condensed version of “The Pirates of Penzance” with orchestra, props, sets and costumes.

Students are involved with not only the performing end of the production but also learn about directing, script writing and even costume design.

“We like the students to be very involved in creating their costumes. We ask them to draw sketches of what they think their character would look like and what they would wear. We use their sketches and ideas as a starting point for their costumes,” director Knox said.

The 90-minute class begins with a warm-up comprised of different vocal and acting exercises to prepare the students for the remainder of the class. Then the students move on to learning music and dialogue for the show they will perform at the end of the semester. Finally, the students are taught the staging and choreography that matches the music they have learned.

It is not only the lessons about theater that students take away from the class but also certain skills that can benefit them in the future.

“The main thing I feel the students learn in Mainstage is confidence and empathy. They are practicing the art of listening and focusing. They learn so much about themselves and grow by pushing themselves to think outside the box,” Knox said.

Mainstage runs from September through May with two registration periods, one in fall and one in spring, with a cost of $300 per semester. For more information visit