All the world’s a stage
Theater leader takes inspiration from Weehawken
by Marilyn Baer
Reporter Staff Writer
Feb 19, 2017 | 3263 views | 0 0 comments | 172 172 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The children’s theater company performed the musical “The Ballad Of Janis Matthews and the Dodo Scouts’  last May.
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Chase Leyner of Weehawken has run a children’s theater in Hoboken for many years, and takes inspiration from the local area.

“I think it’s a nice central hub for all of my students and staff,” said Leyner.

The Hoboken Children’s Theater company is up for an award for Best Children’s Theater/Family Theater Production in New Jersey from for their musical “The Ballad Of Janis Matthews and the Dodo Scouts,” an original musical performed last year in May of 2016, written by Giancarlo Rodaz and Rachel Dean and co-directed by Leyner.

Hoboken Children’s Theater was founded in 2002 when Leyner, an actress by trade, wanted to provide for the growing interests of her eldest daughter Samantha.

“I started it for Samantha really,” said Leyner. “We had been at friend’s house in Massachusetts, we had gone to college together, and saw a performance she was in. All the way home [Samantha] sang all the songs from it.”

Although she has lived in Weehawken for 23 years, she decided to locate the company in Hoboken, where she used to run a children’s clothing business.

She first had about 40 children in the early days of her theater company, but that grew into 80 and now she has over 100 children from Hoboken, Hudson County, and Bergen County.
“Being able to help create confidence in so many shy children is just as important as the accolades.” –Chase Leyner
“It is so fulfilling to demand so much of them and help instruct them so they can turn around and give exactly what I asked for,” said Leyner. “Their level of professionalism and the quality of their acting is amazing. I decided when I started this that kids should not be treated like kids, I mean, I always came at it to do the most professional job while also having fun and learning.”


While the theater company has won other awards, including the Park Performing Arts Center Leyner said the work isn’t about winning awards.

“While we have won some awards and some of my students have gone on to perform on the ‘Lion King’ tour, or be the girl in ‘Billy Elliot’ and that’s great, I like the kids who we can help come out of their shells,” said Leyner. “Being able to help create confidence in so many shy children is just as important as the accolades...We get just as much satisfaction when a shy child finds their voice or conquers a fear or a dance step or a big note. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.“

Marilyn Baer can be reached at

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