CenterPoint Academy is light in the dark through the pandemic and beyondMay 06, 2021 09:49AM ● By Linda Petersen
CenterPoint Academy students perform in “Peter Pan Jr.” in April. Courtesy photos/CenterPoint Academy
CENTERVILLE—The theater world lives and dies by the adage “the show must go on” but last year, as the whole planet went into lockdown, even the theater folks had to hit “pause.” Fortunately, in the small city of Centerville that pause was short-lived.
The CenterPoint Academy, loved by young performers and their parents, briefly went to Zoom and other online networking to finish out the spring season.
“We used Zoom and YouTube to at least keep a connection with the kids,” Academy director Wendy Inkley said.
Planned productions were delayed or went by the wayside, but by October 2020 the group was back up and running with a shortened season even while accommodations for the pandemic had to be made.
“Every class had to have a shorter rehearsal time and just jump in with masks; I would say that was our biggest challenge we had,” Inkley said. “We felt so blessed that we were able to wear masks and follow the Davis County School District mask policy.”
The cloud of the pandemic did have a silver lining for the academy. The 100-seat Leashman Hall, where CenterPoint Academy stages its productions, did not have its normal fall use and the group was able to put on two shows, a concert version of “Addams Family” and “Secret Garden” there. While audiences were smaller due to social distancing requirements, the Academy live streamed the productions so friends and family members could view them.
“That was just a huge boost to these kids,” Inkley said. “It just made the experience of the performance all the sweeter.”
Now, in spring 2021, CenterPoint Academy is going full-bore. They’ve just completed several different performances of Peter Pan. Jr. and the older classes (referred to as the “bigs”) have begun rehearsals schedule for “Freaky Friday” to be performed May 5 – May 22. For the spring productions, performers wore face shields, but they will not have to be masked or shielded for future productions.
CenterPoint Academy was founded by Margot Beecher in 2011 (Pages Lane Theater) at the L Theater offering acting dance and voice for musical theater classes, younger performing arts (one major, one minor). Each year the academy has offered two productions/combined revues a year for students, depending on the class. It grew from strength to strength until Beecher retired to fill a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the acting bug had struck her family, and before long Beecher’s son Danny Inkley and daughter-in-law Wendy Inkley were approached to take the academy over.
“We were pretty excited because at the time four of our five kids were involved so it just seemed to really fit that we would jump in and take over,” Wendy Inkley said.
With a staff of 25 teachers, the nonprofit Academy serves about 500 to 600 youth in Centerville and the surrounding area. Having the academy as an outlet during the pandemic has been important to her students, Inkley said.
“In comparison with the complete shutdown, everyone just had a gratitude to be able to perform at all,” she said.
While CenterPoint nurtures talent, it accepts all students who have a desire to learn and perform. It even has a sister program for special needs kids, Friend to Friend.
“Our biggest message to the kids and the families is this is a place where you belong, the academy motto,” Inkley said. “CenterPoint Theater is a place for everyone.”
Even if family members are not enrolled at the academy, its performances are a great, affordable way to introduce children to theater, Inkley said.
“It’s a great place to have kids come especially; It’s a lower intensity theater opportunity,” she said. “It’s also really good for families to come whose kids can look at and connect with it and say, ‘This is something I want to do, this is something I can do now.’”
This summer CenterPoint Academy will offer several two-week summer camps on June 7, 21, July 5 and July 19 daily from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
And barring any COVD restrictions, Inkley said she is “totally ecstatic” about getting back to “normal” in the fall. “I think we’ll be better than we were before because we had to be so flexible and do things we’ve never done before. Now we have better offerings for everyone.”
Those offerings include new classes on auditioning, acting and backstage production. Enrollment begins May 10 for the general public.
“I really do think out of the negative more positive will come and stay with us for a long, long time,” Inkley said. “We’re thrilled.”