A new after-school children's theatre program is expanding in suburban Columbus. Mouth of the Wolf Productions, which started in Dublin and Upper Arlington in the fall, has branched out to Hilliard and Westerville for winter classes.

A new after-school children's theatre program is expanding in suburban Columbus. Mouth of the Wolf Productions, which started in Dublin and Upper Arlington in the fall, has branched out to Hilliard and Westerville for winter classes.

"I was a very shy child and my first voice came from the stage where I felt comfortable," said director Tina Gleason. "I wanted to expand that experience to as many children as I possibly could."

Gleason, who most recently worked at the Wagnalls Family Theatre in Lithopolis, teaches the sessions with Spenser Morris, who worked locally with Drama Kids.

Classes start Jan. 12 and will be offered for ages 4 to 8 and ages 9 and up. The classes are held one hour each week for eight weeks. The cost is $100 per student, with a $15 sibling discount.

The deadline to register for the winter session is Jan. 9. Each class is limited to 20 participants.

For more information about class locations and times or to register, visit www.mouthofthewolfproductions.com.

Younger students will explore the world of Dr. Seuss, with a 20-minute, one-act play performed for family members on the last day of class.

"In class we'll read a few Dr. Seuss books and then we'll work with the kids to create a Seuss-esque theme play," Gleason said. "We'll get them to use team-building skills and show them the importance of working together to tell a story. That boosts their self-confidence and pulls them together as a team. It makes them feel like they've produced something they can be proud of. We stress to them that it's their show."

Children 9 and up will bring the board game Candyland to life in their production.

"Like with the younger kids, they're creating their lines," Gleason said. "It will focus on developing fantasy characters. It's a different style when you're playing fantastical characters."

Both age groups will learn about theatre and participate in a series of acting games and pantomime to warm up each day.

"We always want them to be comfortable and move at their own place," Gleason said. "We start with the games to get them comfortable with being silly in a safe environment. We want them to know the importance in acting of warming up our minds, bodies and imagination."

The classes are offered every season and will focus on classic literature or storylines the children can create.

"It's always geared more toward what's in their minds and what's in the books," Gleason said. "I'm always amazed at what they're retaining and where their interests lie."

bdunlap@thisweeknews.com