ENCINITAS — Caryn Hall, founder of Prodigy Kids Performing Arts, credits much of her professional success in musical theater to a foundation that was laid during elementary school growing up in King George, Va.“I was in a ‘special talented and gifted’ program where we learned singing, dancing, acting and painting,” she said. “It was very unique and was probably the beginning of what got me so interested in the arts. I had phenomenalteachers. What they passed on inspired me to be a good teacher.”
Hall went on to perform with the Fredericksburg Ballet Company before moving to Philadelphia where she earned a BFA in musical theatre at The University of the Arts.
“The day I graduated I moved to London and worked at The Method Studio in London,” she said. “I was very lucky to get the job teaching dance and musical theater.” Natalie Portman was among the talented children to study at the school.
During the two years that she worked at the Method Studio she performed in productions, including playing the wolf in “Peter in the Wolf,” with the London Royal Ballet.
Hall returned to the United States and worked at the Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota.
“It has a cabaret theater and outreach program and gave me lots of ideas about how to reach out to kids and the community with musicals,” she said.
Afterward, she performed in a national tour of the show, “Br’er Rabbit” and did film work in New York City.
In 2001 Hall moved to San Diego where she performed in “A Chorus Line” at the Starlight Theater, “Will Rogers Follies” at the Moonlight Theater and Downey Civic Light Opera, and in “Gypsy” for The Little Theater in San Luis Obispo. She also taught elementary and middle school in La Jolla.
In 2010, after having a child, she opened Prodigy Kids Performing Arts.
“I wanted to create a safe place for kids to experiment with theater and musical theater,” she said. “Whether it was ‘Peter Pan’ or ‘Rent,’ I wanted it to be fun and game based. Kids learn the most through games.”
Today, Hall says she incorporates improv, costume and prop games to get children to think on their feet.
“I want them to understand the idea of character development and all it involves,” she added.
The Prodigy Players, which rehearses on Saturdays, have performed around town including San Diego Botanic Gardens. On March 17, the troupe will perform “Winnie-in-the Citie, A new Pooh Adventure” at the Encinitas Library.
“The word-of-mouth has been wonderful,” Hall said. “The students get a script, and they are learning to appreciate theater and understand terminology and concepts. They all have a good time.”
Piper Lacy’s daughter, Lilah, has been a student since the school opened.
“Caryn has an incredible ability to work with children, inspire them and make them focus and hone their precision,” Lacy said. “She emphasizes the process and not the product. The children engage the audience. We laugh, we are captivated, and sometimes we might even cry a little. She is giving our kids a great foundation of confidence and poise.”
Prodigy offers acting, musical theater, voice, piano and dance (ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap) for all ages. For more information visit prodigykidsperformingarts.com or call (858) 336-0878.
Prodigy Kids Performing Arts is located at 116 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas.