Since encouraging the creativity of our youth is essential, Crane River Theater is excited to offer a series of arts education programs for youth.  Every summer we present a series of Explore Theater classes made possible by our partnerships with Kearney Park and Recreation and the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, our high school Shadow Program in partnership with Kearney Public Schools and our Backstage Workshop that encompasses the whole state of Nebraska.  In just a few short years our Explore Theater program has been able to reach hundreds of kids ranging kindergarten through middle school providing them a hands-on theater experience.  Imagination at Play, Magic of Theater, Clowning Around and Let’s Make a Musical are just a few of the classes offered. While the younger kids tackle the craft of theater through puppetry, fairy tales, and storytelling, the middle school students set out to present a performance equipped with music and choreography.

 Our Shadow Program is a one of kind opportunity that has been with us since our first summer.  This program allows selected high school students to work side by side with a professional company member.  Our Artistic Director, Music Director and Stage Manager are shadowed by a student that is carefully chosen from an interview process to receive an inside look into the inner workings of a professional production.  The chance for a promising student to actually work with and learn from a professional in the arts is otherwise not available in Kearney.  Shadow participants from past years have gone on to receive theater scholarships at major universities, and have credited the Shadow Program as an important contribution to that success.   

 Our Backstage Workshop truly encompasses the whole state of Nebraska.  This program allows high school students from across the state to receive a backstage look at a professional production and take part in a series of theatrical workshops.  The event draws in more than one hundred students and faculty from dozens of schools every year.  Workshop offerings include acting for the stage, musical theater, choreography, video production, stage combat, make-up design, improvisation and scene painting techniques.  Faculty members from many area universities and colleges take part in this exciting two day event that has become a statewide success.