Children’s community theater in Shepherdstown has arts community impact throughout the eastern panhandle

West Virginia

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — New Year’s is coming up soon, and for anyone looking for something special to do this weekend, some talented young actors in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia are ready to entertain you.

The Black Box Theatre in Shepherdstown is a children’s community arts theatre. Managing Artistic Director Laura Richards Bakin said it is very special to the region.

“[The on-stage team] love working together. They’re a big family,” Bakin said.

Many of these kids have big dreams — Broadway could well be in the future for a star of the upcoming performance of “A Christmas Carol;” just ask Boston Charles Smallwood.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’d love to do it as a full-time job,” Smallwood said.

Boston’s younger sister, Eleanor, may well find herself on Broadway one day too; but she realizes she has a learning curve: overcoming an apprehension of performing before an audience!

“I’m very non-social so it’s helpful for me to try to be social sometimes,” Eleanor said with a giggle.

Eleanor and Boston’s mom see the reward her kids get from the experience.

“The children come home and they have great stories about their friends, but they’ve also learned just how to be good community members, make friendships but also learn to work in an environment that, they’re getting constructive criticism and they’re learning to grow in a positive way, and the arts is very important in our family so Black Box has been wonderful for us,” said Emily Smallwood.

The theater has continued all this while having to overcome the limitations of COVID in the community.

“Support the arts in your community,” Emily said. “Black Box Youth is one of the most wonderful programs in this area not just in Shepherdstown but also the entire eastern panhandle.”

For online tickets, visit their website. The Black Box Theatre not only stages productions, but it also has classes for auditioning, improvisation, playwriting and directing. Black Box also conducts youth art workshops and summer camps.

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