More than three decades after a troupe of drama students at Hilliard High School started the Giggle Factory, thespians at Hilliard Davidson High School continue to put smiles on children's faces.
"I love their reaction," junior Jordan Myers, 17, said of the children for whom the Giggle Factory performs.
A crowd of children clustered near the stage of Davidson's performing-arts center Feb. 5 for the Giggle Factory's annual public performance.
It is one of the few ticketed performances with the admission fees helping to fund a $500 scholarship for a Davidson graduate to study theater at a college or university.
Giggle Factory performers also visit elementary schools in the district and make an occasional private appearance.
"We do up to 10 performances a year," said Emily Campbell, assistant drama director at Davidson and director of the Giggle Factory productions. "Our performances are based on children's entertainment, (such as) skits."
Most of the performances are pantomime but some dialogue is involved, Campbell said.
Twenty students, all of whom are among the approximately 100 members of Davidson's theater department and technical crew, comprise the Giggle Factory, which began in 1983 at the high school that today is Memorial Middle School.
Robin Brenneman, then director of the high school's theater department, recalled the desire for the thespians to have a group similar to the select vocal groups that her late husband, Ken Brenneman, directed.
"Ken had the madrigals and I thought it would be cool if we could do something similar for the drama department," she said.
Brenneman recalled a gathering with students to brainstorm a name for the group.
"(One student) said, 'How about the Giggle Factory?' and we began doing performances."
A clown troupe was part of the group's formative years and it also helped raise moderate proceeds for the theater department's operating costs, but proceeds eventually were redirected to a student scholarship.
Among the patrons last weekend was Debbie Kirk, a secretary at Crossing Elementary School who took her grandchildren, ages 6 and 2.
"I really enjoyed it. It was a perfect day for them," Kirk said.
Linda Lundquist took her granddaughter to the show.
"I liked the guy who was wearing the hat," said Ruthie Lundquist, 6.
Although many performers had a hat, she was referring to senior Michael Faltas, 18.
"This is purely for kids' enjoyment. It is fun and it's relaxing," said Faltas, adding that Giggle Factory shows are not quite as stressful as rehearsals and practice required for full-length stage plays.
Myers, whose peers elected her as "officer" of the Giggle Factory this year, said she hopes the performances inspire other children to explore theater and the performing arts.