You probably don’t remember me, but last fall, my kids and I attended the Keane Foundation Open House at the Pitkin Community Center. My shy daughter Leah was quietly singing in the gym and you [Judy Keane]walked up to her and told her that she had a beautiful voice and should sign up for the musical. Although I had encouraged her several times to sign up for the theater club in the fall, thinking that maybe this would bring her out of her shell, she had repeatedly told me that she didn’t want to because she was too shy. With your encouragement, she signed up for theater the next day and absolutely loved it! She then decided to sign up for the musical at her school, Emerson-Williams. She tried out and got the part of Annie! She has had an amazing time learning about what goes into putting on a show and is no longer so shy about singing in front of people. She has found something that she is passionate about and plans to continue doing drama and musicals in middle school. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you do for the kids of Wethersfield,  and especially for the words of encouragement that you gave to a child that you didn’t even know. You never know the impact that your words can have on someone else’s life. I encourage you to come see the show! – Amy


My daughter was able to be a part of the play this year and it definitely helped her come out of her shell and express herself. She had an amazing time. She bonded with her classmates and it was great to see the finished product. She worked extra hard at home to practice and it showed her that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Thank you for the opportunity and experience. Our family and friends were so impressed with the kids, the play, and the set. We are looking forward to next year.


This is Lisa, Hunter’s mom.  I am so thrilled that Hunter had the opportunity to work with all of you from the Keane Foundation as well as Hartford Stage.  What an amazing opportunity to Audition and be cast in the role of Rooster and a few others.  

Hunter has danced since the age of 2 and has been on stage before.  He had expressed an interest after seeing several community theatre productions over the years.  Two of my very close friends are theatre directors here in CT.  I have supported their shows for many years.  He simply said I would like to try that.  When the Annie information came home from school, my wife and I were elated and encouraged him to try out.  He was not feeling it to say the least.  We sat down as a family and watched the original movie and he said …OK.  

Hunter became close to the cast and was so sad when it ended.  He will have a bond with these kids for years to come.  They will have behind-the-scenes memories that no one else can touch.  He was able to form relationships that he ordinarily would not have had he had not done Annie.  Hunter knows what it means to practice as he competes, but this is a whole new level of commitment… not just learning the lines but acting and then delivering them.  

He now has the bug to do more, overall a great first experience with a wonderful family feel. Who knew he would love the stage? 

Lisa

I’m happy to share some feedback for future promotional and funding opportunities. First, though, I want to say thank you for all of your efforts to make this program amazing and to ensure inclusion for all of the kids! I am so grateful to you for working to find a para to support Ellie during the program and for personally being there when the para couldn’t be there. 

Feedback

1. Ellie had the time of her life during the Annie play at Emerson! She had the opportunity to try something new and stretch herself. Ellie learned the valuable lesson that hard work pays off – she and her friends practiced for months, worked together, and created something wonderful. We saw her confidence grow and friendships deepen and we can’t thank Keane Kids enough for making it all possible!  

2. From Ellie: “I loved the Annie play. I got to spend time practicing with my friends and we performed on the stage. We had so much fun working together.” 

Let me know if you need anything else. 

Thank you!

Kate

My daughter was in the musical Finding Nemo at Hanmer. She had never been part of any production other than the concerts at the school. She was nervous but she wanted to try something different other than the band. In the beginning, she wasn’t sure if she would like it, but as the weeks grew into months I found her actually singing the songs and she was very happy and coming out of her shell (from the result of covid years).

My daughter was so excited to see the props and the costumes she was actually looking forward to the performance and didn’t mind that the last week the practices were so long. After the production was over she actually said to me “Mom I think I am going to be a theater kid. I love being on stage. I want to do more musicals. Do you think the school will have more?”

My daughter has shined and is now a happier kid she found something she absolutely loves and if it wasn’t for this program she wouldn’t have been given this opportunity.

Thank you for letting all the kids shine and bring out their talent. Not all kids are academic some love to be creative and my daughter is one of those kids. 

Dante played Zazu in the Lion King musical at Charles Wright. I was so grateful that 4th graders were allowed to participate (due to lower enrollment at registration). It was Dante’s first experience in a musical production, and I’m so glad he chose to participate. I think musical theatre has given Dante more confidence in speaking and singing on stage. The production is a wonderful outlet for getting together with friends and making new friends, while also learning and creating something together. While sports also offer a way to get kids together, the musical production gives kids a chance to show their creativity and talents. I think we need more support for the arts in schools. Dante would definitely participate in a musical production again at Charles Wright School if given the opportunity.

Thank you,

Jessica 

My daughter, Avery, participated in Seussical this year and was also in Matilda last year, both at Webb Elementary. 

I cannot even begin to express what an amazing opportunity this program is for the children of Wethersfield. My daughter has developed a confidence and poise that I certainly did not have at her age. She has found a passion for musical theater and has learned so much about discipline and teamwork. The High School kids who worked on the play at Webb were amazing mentors and role models for her. It was also so fun to attend shows at other schools where she could celebrate the talents of her other friends in town. 

Having a younger kid at Webb has also shown me how much the younger kids look up to the 5th and 6th graders in the play. They are in awe of their abilities – like local celebrities! And these kids cannot wait to be able to participate in the play when they come of age. It is also so wonderful to see how the High School kids mentor and encourage the current kids in the play, and then how the 5th/6th graders take that and encourage the younger ones to participate next year. 

I also cannot say enough about Cindy Lesser and Stacey Tinker. What they do for the kids at Webb is above and beyond anything parents might have expected. They have been so supportive of Avery and have encouraged her to hone her newfound talents outside of school as well. 

Please let me know if you’d like any additional information or feedback!! Thanks, -Jen


Our daughter Emma loved meeting new kids and learning how to express herself through singing and dancing.  Being part of the play gave her the opportunity to “try out” for a part, knowing that the opportunity would not be handed to her, and would have to be earned; which seems to be a skill that many kids need to get more exposure to in order to prepare them for middle school and beyond.   

Emma has also gained independence through practicing her lines, managing her time, being responsible for learning her part,  knowing that her work would be viewed by strangers, and feeling a sense of accomplishment. 

Emma has gained a new love for performing and expressing herself as a different character and looks forward to the opportunity to continue being a part of future performances.

Thank you for supporting our kids and providing this special opportunity.

Keith, Eileen & Emma 


What an experience! My son, Kevin, asked me to take part in the musical and I warned him that he was going to have a busy spring. He took it upon himself to seek out Mrs. Lesser in school to ask about the musical and what the commitment would be. He arrived home and insisted he could handle it. I am so glad my husband and I agreed.  Each day I picked him up at practice, he would be singing the songs in the car and sharing what he had done. 

On the weekend of the play, as a volunteer,  I was able to witness first-hand the energy behind the scenes. The children involved had created a community. They constantly encouraged and complimented each other before and after each performance. I watched my own son transform.  I  could not believe how he danced and sang on stage with such confidence. The emotion he showed on his face during his scenes was amazing.  My father, who speaks no English sat in awe. He shared that although he did not understand the words, he could understand how the students on stage were feeling. At the last performance, I was able to take part in a final closing circle when the children were given the opportunity to share what this experience meant to them. Many of the students shared how much they had grown, how they had surprised themselves, and how grateful they were for this opportunity and the lasting friendships made. 

Sunday evening, after that final performance, my son, Kevin turned to me and exclaimed, ” I am exhausted, but I want to do this again!”

Our son, Gabriel was the lead role (Jack Kelly) in Newsies at Highcrest Elementary this spring as a fifth grader and I truly believe the experience was life-changing for him. He had never acted or danced before but had a few friends who were participating and really liked the movie when he saw it, so he decided to sign up. He came into his own in such an incredible way during the whole process, especially during the performances. He truly was on top of the world. 

In my opinion, the biggest takeaway by far was the CONFIDENCE he discovered. He absolutely thrived being up there in front of the crowd, taking pride in himself. At the last performance, we had little gifts to present to the directors and I had asked if he felt comfortable addressing the crowd to present those. When the moment came I was astounded at how confidently he asked for everyone’s attention and spoke off the cuff to thank the adults and present the gifts. Afterward, one of the directors told me Gabe had made her cry. 

In Gabe’s opinion, the biggest takeaway was his discovery of how much he loves being in musicals. He came away desperate to participate in more! We tried to get him involved with other community opportunities coming off of Newsies but the options we found either conflicted with summer vacation plans or were already waitlisting. We will look for more opportunities this coming school year, but he unequivocally wants to participate in the Highcrest play in the coming 2024-2025 school year as it is by far the most accessible program for us (and it’s also in a community he is already a part of).

One last illustration of the impact of the experience – attached is a photo of a collage that Gabe & I put together and hung as a centerpiece in his room. I think of it as a daily reminder to him of what he is capable of, to take pride in his work, and confidence in himself.

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for making this program possible for these kids!