PITTSFIELD -- Over the past decade, Kara Demler has taught bunnies to hop, fine china to dance and 5-year-olds how to sing Broadway music as the founder and director of Berkshire Children’s Theater.
Today and Monday, BCT will give two post-holiday performances of its production "Peter Rabbit and the Bunny Hop." On Sunday, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, current members and alumni of the youth theater program will present "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: 10 Years of Berkshire Children’s Theater," a medley of musical memories.
Demler, who owns and operates Berkshire Costume Co. in Pittsfield, also is keeping busy this month doing costuming for Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of "A Christmas Carol." But, she says, she will always make time for BCT because it goes beyond a professional calling.
"It’s a family thing. Both my kids are doing it, so it’s something I get to do with them," she said. "A lot of families do this. We’ve had a lot of sisters and brothers and cousins who get involved, so it’s a togetherness thing, too."
One such example are siblings Chelsea and Dylan LeSage. Both joined BCT around age 14, Chelsea, now 21, encouraging Dylan, now 18, to get involved.
"And we kind of got involved about 10 years after most kids do," Chelsea said.
Berkshire Children’s Theater is open to youths ages 5 to 11 years old.
Participating in BCT and in theater at Taconic High School prompted the sister and brother to pursue theater degrees at Marymount Manhattan College and Salem State University respectively.
"It was nice to have that early exposure," said Dylan.
Chelsea said it was BCT that gave her the confidence to keep pursuing theater opportunities.
"It’s everything," she said. "I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t do BCT. It’s great to know such a great director and an early age. Everyone’s very kind here."
Both will perform individual musical numbers on Sunday, as well as a duet.
Sabrina Gogan was 15 when she was in her first BCT production, which was based at what is now Barrington Stage Company’s Mainstage on Union Street.
Gogan, now 26, also will perform on Sunday, and said she is looking forward to seeing people who she performed with over the years.
"I made a lot of friends in it. It’s still one of the only outlets in the Pittsfield area that has theater opportunities for younger students," she said. "[Demler] has a lot of devotion to the program and a lot of patience."
"And she doesn’t just get to sit down and enjoy the show. She brought her own spotlight here which she’ll run. She’s always working," said Jetter White, 16, who works backstage for BCT’s Berkshire Museum productions and also is working on "A Christmas Carol."
Demler said she works with the age group she does because she believes in giving them the opportunity to be a part of something. "I just think they’re capable of doing it, and they like doing it. I think the kids coming to see our shows also find it interesting that there’s someone their age up there on stage."
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If you go Š
n What: Berkshire Children’s Theater presents "Peter Rabbit and the Bunny Hop"
n When: 11 a.m. today and Monday
n Where: Berkshire Museum, South Street, Pittsfield
n Tickets: Tickets are $15 for adults ($5 for members), $8 for children ($3 for members), and free for kids ages 3 and under. Includes museum admission.