"Most of the time when our young people are involved in drama, they're participating in a play and they're very busy learning their parts and their blocking and all of those things," said Terri Cox, program director for The Grand. "They don't really have a lot of time to work on acting skills, such as how do you project your voice or how do you develop a character and things like that.
"So we have time [in these classes] to focus on a lot of their skills without having to learn a play at the same time. We hope that they'll gain confidence in their abilities and learn to be a little more polished of an actor when they do actually participate in a play sometime later on."
Referring to McCrary's contributions to the local theater scene, Cox said she excels in teaching the acting craft to young students. Along with participating in productions with StageWorks and The Grand Theatre, McCrary also assists the dramatic pursuits of Georgia Highlands College and the Alliance Theatre.
"The younger group, the second- through fifth-grade group, will be focusing more on the very basics of being on stage," McCrary said about the Kids Onstage Class. "That will include how to project their voices, stage movements and how to act with your whole body and not just your face because people in the back row might not be able to see your facial expressions. You have to be able to use your entire body and that's something that kids that age pick up very quickly. They have the energy for that.
"The older group is going to be focusing more on character building, which is something that Terri and I have found -- we wish they had more opportunities to learn but we often don't have time to work with them in depth when we're in the middle of producing a show because we're under such a time crunch. So we are probably going to be doing some scene study work. They'll be working with partners or small groups, practicing how to read that scene and sort of get an idea of what kind of character that person is and what they can use from their own experience to kind of build that and make it their own."
With both classes starting Jan. 3, the two offerings will meet on Tuesdays for six weeks. Convening from 4 to 5:15 p.m., Kids Onstage will be geared toward students in grades two through five and will cost $60. The course will be followed by the Teen Acting Class that will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Tailored for students in middle and high school, the offering's tuition will be $90.
"For the younger ones, first I just hope that they have fun," McCrary said. "That's a big part of it because if they enjoy that class, then that means that they'll want to go on and be in other productions and continue doing this as they get older. But I also want them to feel comfortable on stage. A lot of times we have kids who are very shy and would like to be able to get out there and jump in there with the others who are a little bit more confident but they just don't quite have that skill set. And I want them to feel more comfortable in getting out there and auditioning for plays and feel a little bit more comfortable with that.
"With the older kids, the character building is something that they'll use in any play that they participate in at school or a musical here at The Grand or a non-musical drama over at The Legion Theatre with The Pumphouse [Players]. It's something that will come in handy for them wherever they audition. If they can do a lot of that stuff on their own, then that will make them that much more appealing to other directors because the director then will see, 'Oh, this is a confident actor who knows their craft.' And the director doesn't have to tell them every single thing to do."
With limited space available in the classes, preregistration is encouraged by calling 770-386-7343 or visiting The Grand Theatre Ticket Office -- 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville -- Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.