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—Photo courtesy of Danny Lam

Lone Tree Arts Center Takes Curious Kids Behind the Scenes

At the center's inaugural open house, kids will learn everything from how to handle stage lighting to "calling" a show. 

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The lights, the costumes, the music: For minds both young and old, there’s nothing like live theater. The Lone Tree Arts Center is pulling back the curtain to give kids a behind-the-scenes look at how the magic happens.

The four-year-old nonprofit’s inaugural September 5 open house goes beyond unlocking the doors and putting out canapés. The performing arts center, which is operated by the city of Lone Tree, will reveal its stage secrets to curious kiddos with an afternoon of hands-on fun, all while spreading the word of its mission to families in the south-metro area (and beyond).

“At first, an open house sounded boring,” says Katie Maltais, director of marketing. “People want to know how the magic happens.”

Theater trivia in the shows’ programs has been a big hit with all ages, Maltais says, so she and the staff brainstormed ideas on how to present a similar experience on a grander scale. Rather than offering standard backstage tours, Maltais came up with a scavenger hunt where kids can explore the theater departments, try out equipment, and take photos.

(Check out the 5280 guide to taking learning outside the classroom)

Among the highlights, kids will meet the center’s lighting designer, who will teach them how to handle the controls that create different lighting cues and colors. They’ll learn how to “call” a show with the sound and rigging staff (including trying on the headsets), and dress up for the stage in the theater’s dressing rooms. They can also scour the hallways for signatures of famous entertainers, including Buddy the Dinosaur Train and Randy Newman, who’ve performed at the center.

Anyone who has witnessed a child watch a live performance for the first time, Maltais says, knows how enthralling the experience can be. “I still remember my first live performance,” she says. “I went to see ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in second or third grade. I remember lights, smoke. We want to give that to as many kids as we can, and we still have neighbors who haven’t been here.”

Attned: Lone Tree Arts Center’s Open House is Saturday, Sept. 5 from 1 to 4 p.m.; 10075 Commons St., Lone Tree; 720-509-1000; lonetreeartscenter.org

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