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While Theaters Are Dark, These Virtual Stages Deliver Actual Fun

Online stages have the spotlight now that real ones are dark. The following companies enable children to watch, perform or learn about theater remotely.

ArtsPower National Touring Theater: For $15, families can stream a show from the company for an unlimited time as part of its new on-demand service. All based on children’s books, the hourlong musicals include extras like author interviews and how-to-dance videos. The service’s first title, “Chicken Dance,” adapts Danny Schnitzlein’s comic barnyard tale.

Beat by Beat Press: This theater publisher has created two musicals for ages 7 to 14 that camps, schools and youth groups can rehearse and present virtually. After buying a license ($149.50 until Sept. 1, but organizations with low funds can pay less), the group downloads scripts, recorded accompaniment and other materials. Actors individually record and upload their numbers, which, when viewed successively, coalesce into a show. The choices: “The Show Must Go Online!” or “Super Happy Awesome News!

Funikijam World Music: Offering classes and shows that introduce children 9 and under to a variety of global cultures, the company has presented its menu in a virtual format. In its Totally Awesome Summer program, families can find music videos, online activities, excerpts from recorded performances and many free classes.

The New Victory Theater: Normally the home of international productions, the theater has devised New Victory Arts Break, a free weekly series of activities to do from Monday to Friday. Each package — they’re all on the website — has a theme, like songwriting or tap dance. This week’s edition honors Juneteenth with songs, readings, history and drama.

The Paper Bag Players: The troupe that makes stories out of cardboard and paper teaches small children to do the same. Its webpage Activities for Kids at Home features weekly video installments with clips from past performances and projects like how to turn a box into a car.

TheaterWorksUSA: This national company offers TheaterWorks Anywhere, a webpage with free activities, behind-the-scenes information and video clips of musical adaptations of books like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Dog Man: The Musical.” (Monthly subscriptions, starting at $5, provide access to more content.) It recently introduced TheaterWorksUSAcademy, a fee-based program of skill lessons and master classes, including a DIY: Family Musicals! course that begins on Saturday.

Trusty Sidekick: Children can view free videos of nine of the troupe’s shows, a smorgasbord for different ages, on its website through June. But Sidekick Studio, its series of mini-classes, will remain online all summer. So will a video of the company’s latest experiment, “The Planetary Discovery Census,” an intergalactic adventure featuring cast members and the audience interacting on Zoom.

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