State of Play
Roots’ School of Theatre Welcomes All Ages
Even as high school sweethearts at Lawrence Central in Indianapolis, Brad and Mindy Root, owners of Roots’ School of Theatre, knew they wanted to pursue acting. They did so together, studying the craft at Ball State University and then heading to New York City to work toward their dream.
But along the way, they developed another goal together. One day, they decided, they would focus their work on teaching children about theater.
That one day came sooner than expected.
The couple now owns a theater school for children. Roots’ School of Theatre draws nearly 150 students from Fishers and surrounding areas to learn everything from acting to improv to piano.
“We’ve been really blessed to have the Fishers community to work in,” Mindy says. “Everyone is really supportive.”
After graduating from Ball State – Mindy in 2012 and Brad in 2013 – the Roots began careers in New York. They came back to Indianapolis each summer to lead an acting class at Mud Creek Theater, which inspired them to expand their focus on teaching theater to children – a plan they thought they’d pursue well into the future.
The couple returned to Indiana in 2016, when Mindy began her master’s degree work. Then a mutual friend introduced them to Michele Shetter, who was looking for someone to buy Michele’s Studio Theater House. With their passion for teaching theater to children in mind, the Roots took the plunge and bought the studio.
“It seemed like the right move,” Brad says. “We didn’t think an opportunity like this would come up again.”
Roots’ School of Theatre opened in August 2017 near 116th and Lantern Road in Fishers, where Shetter’s business had been. The couple liked the small studio but thought they might eventually outgrow the space. They needed a larger facility within one year and moved to their current location between 126th and 131st streets near Texas Roadhouse in 2018.
Children from kindergarten through grade 12 attend Roots’ School of Theatre to perform in musical and non-musical plays, learn improv and write sketches, take part in a summer camp, and receive private lessons in voice, piano and auditioning.
Led by six instructors including the Roots, students rehearse and present shows for family and friends in the school’s 80-seat theater. Past productions include “Mary Poppins” and “101 Dalmatians” (Mindy’s favorites), as well as “Into the Woods Jr.” and “Peter Pan” (Brad’s favorites).
Regardless of the given program, the Roots say there’s one aspect of the school’s training that stands apart – its inclusive approach.
Sure, Roots’ School of Theatre fueled its rapid growth in part with students who originally attended Shetter’s studio. The couple also credits Mud Creek Theater with lending a hand in getting out the word about the Roots’ school. The couple believes their insistence that each student be accepted to perform has also been important to the school’s growth.
“Theater shouldn’t just be for the kids who know somebody, or are seen as talented or worthy,” Brad says.
Students audition for parts after they enroll. The school places all students in roles that are intensive and might require everything from scene changes to solo performances. Roots’ School of Theatre keeps cast numbers low for each production, to give every student an opportunity for significant roles and individualized instruction.
“This is about fostering a love of theater,” Mindy says.
The couple understands that not every child is Broadway-bound and not every child wants to be. They believe that what students learn at theater school will pay dividends in a range of settings from the classroom to the boardroom. Children who attend can gain confidence and foster skills in teamwork, empathy and public speaking. Improv students, in particular, become adept at thinking on their feet.
“I love when I hear a parent say, ‘Their teacher says they speak up more in class and have more confidence in their voice,’” Mindy says.
The school’s popularity has led to awards from Hulafrog, a national network of websites for parents.
To learn more about instruction and pricing at Roots’ School of Theatre, located at 12999 Parkside Drive in Fishers, visit rootsschooloftheatre.com. Join the school’s email list to receive priority class registration. You also can reach the school via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 317-439-9965.