Carol Sottosanti inherited her love of hitting high notes and cutting rugs from her father, an opera singer who inspired her to pursue a degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. Naturally, Carol wanted her children to also experience the beauty and exhilaration of performing on stage, but she couldn't find a program that would grant her kids the proper exposure and practice they needed. Teaming up with other moms in the community, Carol organized a few small shows starring the neighborhood's charismatic children, and subsequently, Kids Unlimited was born. Since its inception in 1986, KU Studios still produces shows regularly, preparing their young performers with various classes in vocal performance, dance, and acting. Aspiring triple threats can dive into a wide variety of camps designed to hone singing and dancing skills, while promoting awareness of important topics such as bullying or the proliferation of mimes in Tucson. KU's outstanding performers earn their way into small-group ensembles that perform regularly throughout the community.
CYT Tucson immerses kids in a supportive environment that nurtures discipline and self-confidence while instructing the future thespians in the arts of the stage. Their introductory Rising Stars program acquaints children aged 5–7 to the magic of drama through games, dance, and the lesson that emotions can be faked to influence people other than relatives and mall Santas. Older students can enroll in specialized classes and devote their attention to the triple-threat disciplines of singing, dancing, and acting. They may also branch out into specialty courses on such topics as improv and stage fighting. Leading its charges through the production of a fully realized musical, the center also stages several shows, including past productions of Pocahontas and Annie in recent years.
The house lights dim, and stage lights begin to brighten. As they rise, so do voices from a huddle of children at center stage. Their voices ring out clear and clean, unhindered by heavy instrumental accompaniment, a homage to the songbirds on Glee. In fact, this stage is set by Desert Sun Performing Arts' class of the same name. At Glee class, kids harmonize and move to Top 40 hits and Broadway classics. The class is one of the performing-arts offerings at the dance studio, which also holds classes in contemporary dance, ballet, jazz, lyrical, and tap.
Popcorn Media gives kids the chance to experience strutting down the red carpet during their Movie Star workshops and weeklong camps. Attendees soak up the secrets of screen acting from a director who works with Disney and Nickelodeon studios while producing their own unique work. They oversee each production element that goes into a film's creation, from lighting and filming to rehearsing and giving their parents an autograph. At the end of each camp, kids attend a red-carpet premier of their work amid the applause of friends and family.
Though it’s only been open less than five years, Dearing Acting Studio has already prepared some of its students for roles on TV shows such as House, Modern Family, and Grey’s Anatomy. Much of the studio’s success hails from its staff of working actors, who lead students of all ages and experience levels toward their individual goal, whether that be performing in a Broadway play, starring in a commercial, or conducting a family meeting entirely in Shakespearean verse.