About Us

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About Us

In the middle of Forest Hills Gardens there is magic! For more than 90 years, the Garden Players have entertained the Forest Hills Community. Since 2002, under the direction of performer and playwright Betina Hershey, community children’s theater comes alive, offering children the chance to learn to act, mime, improvise, sing and put on shows for each other, their families and the community. The program is geared towards encouraging expression, creativity and individuality. The children learn singing, acting and improvisation techniques using Viola Spolin Theater Games, improvisation leading towards a long form Harold, ear-training, and study both classic and original musical theater material.  Emphasis is on fun, trust, focus and courage. The acting skills children attain sharpen their memory, teach them poise, presence, the ability to speak before a group, and help them to learn how to cooperate and work well with others. No previous acting or singing experience required. Giggling guaranteed!

There are two semesters.  In the fall, students work on acting improvisation, monologues, choreography and songs from well-known musicals. Emphasis is on fun, trust, focus and courage.  The fall semester ends with Sharing Day in December. At this fun event the students showcase their talents. The Garden Players also perform a music concert in January.

In the spring, students work on perfecting their performing skills under the guidance of seasoned working professional actors.  In this semester, the students practice and rehearse to put on the year end finale – a fully staged, choreographed and costumed original musical production.   This year end show is performed at the Forest Hills Gardens Community House and features professional musicians accompanying the children before a full audience.

Original musicals inspired by our kids, written our artistic director and educator Betina Hershey and premiered by the Garden Players students have gone on to community productions in 65 countries and nearly every U.S. state. These musicals are published and available at Beat by Beat Press.

The staging of the final show is a community experience, where children can show their parents and the community all they can do. All children in the Garden Players get a part in the production and participate in the acting and singing magic. Parental involvement is an essential element. Parents are invited to help make the magic happen in any capacity they feel comfortable such as sets, costumes, makeup, photography, playbill, or usher.

Throughout the journey your child will develop confidence, eloquence and poise. Garden Players have gone on to appear in commercials during the Grammys, sing the national anthem at the US Open, win prestigious vocal competitions, gain admission to the Professional Performing Arts School, Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of the Performing Arts, Frank Sinatra High School, Talent Unlimited, Mark Twain, appear on Saturday Night Live and more. Other children choose another path as they come away from the Garden Players with high level skills which allow them to excel in debate, public presentations, and self-expression. At the Garden Players, your child will have a chance to learn, to accomplish something, to make friends, to have fun and to make magic!

Actor Interviews May 2017. What are the real benefits of musical theater? How do kids feel about themselves when they put on a show? Sara of Little Comb Productions interviewed some of the Garden Players actors. Here is what they have to say.


News & Articles of Interest

During the COVID-19 shelter in place we met online using Zoom and Google Classrooms and put together songs and monologues based on our spring musical. We’re The Garden Players is our theme song, created during this time online.

Magic It Up is the title song of our 2019 original musical written for the Garden Players kids.

Thank you to our graduates who come back from their Performing Arts Schools to help our current students out! 

Little Comb Productions put together a wonderful video showing highlights of our 2017 original musical “Your Turn! A Superhero Musical”, including little stories about the creation process from Betina Hershey (writer, director) and Sunny Knable (writer, musical director).

Magic It Up 2019. Thanks to Kate DeFeo for this article in the Queens Gazette about our 2019 original musical Magic It Up.

Switch It Off! 2018. Thanks Tony Barsamian and everyone at the Queens Gazette. Take a look at this article about our recent production Switch It Off!

Queens Gazette published an article written by our Garden Players grad Stella DiCicco about our latest show this May 2017, Your Turn, A Superhero Musical!

We were also in the September 17th Queens Gazette with photos from Lemontales and an article by director Betina Herhsey.

Broadway World  features our Garden Players with photos of our production of Space Pirates!

Nicolette Barsamian, a Garden Players grad, and now a writer for the Queens Gazette interviewed Garden Players Director Betina Hershey.

more articles

Arts is vital for self expression, enrichment, and brain development. Let’s grow together through the art of music, theater, acting improv, story development, songwriting, band, and making a musical!

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