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Sheldon offers after-school theater classes

Logan Kays Ritchie

The Sheldon School of the Performing Arts will get off to a fresh start this fall with a new instructor, a new partner and new locations.

Logan Kays Ritchie, who has appeared in numerous productions on the Sheldon stage, will teach theater classes that now are being offered in partnership with Red Wing Community Education. Classes will be held in local school buildings.

"We want to make it more accessible for all kids," Ritchie said.

The change from a Sheldon-based program to school-based, after-school classes also aims to get more children involved and to keep fees low.

The first fall class will start Monday at Burnside School. Second- through fourth-grade students will meet from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays for eight weeks (excluding Oct. 8) in the art room Cost is $50.

Starting up on Wednesday is a session for kindergarten through second-grade students. It will meet Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. for eight weeks in the Sunnyside School media center. Cost is $50.

Parents of second-graders can select the program they think best suits their children.

Each group of up to 20 students will prepare a production based on children's literature, Ritchie said. "The kids will kind of create their own stories," she explained, by applying creative license to the story.

Ritchie chose the stories because "they're a lot of fun. They are good stories for kids to know." These also can lead to an exploration of different cultures, she said.

The Burnside class will prepare a production of "Borreguita and the Coyote: A Tale from Ayutla, Mexico." According to the story description, "Coyotte is causing trouble for the little lamb, Borreguita. Who is craftier?"

Students will play creative theater games and "unleash their own creative spirits" as they learn the elements of performance and the importance of working together.

At Sunnyside, students will start with "Where the Wild Things Are."

Students will join Max on his grand adventure to the land of Wild Things.

"Come roar, howl, leap and learn," Ritchie invited. Through creative movement, games and performance, students will discover the basics of theater, "letting go of inhibitions and working as an ensemble."

At the final session, students will perform their plays at the schools for family and friends.

Older children also will have an opportunity to attend after-school theater classes Mondays and Wednesdays. Fifth- through seventh-grade students can sign up for "Playwrights and Performers: Narnia," which will start Nov. 14 and run for nine weeks at Twin Bluff Middle School. Cost is $60.

Families can register for the programs by calling Red Wing Community Education, 651-385-4565, or going online to and clicking on community ed.

Ritchie performed in Arts Alive, Red Wing High School and Phoenix Theatre productions while attending school here. She graduated from RWHS in 2008 and received a bachelor's degree in theater from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., this past May.

She is working toward a master's degree in teaching at Hamline University, St. Paul.

She also has practical experience working with children -- as a tutor while in college, as a teaching intern at Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis last summer, and as an assistant to instructor Pam Larson at the Sheldon's theater camp this summer.

Ritchie applied for the instructor's position after learning Sheldon officials were looking to revamp the children's program. Eventually she hopes to teach theater at the high school level or in an educational program attached to a theater.