Mom and daughter share a love for theater

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

 

A mother and daughter working together is a rarity. When you speak with Bobbi Wolf and her daughter Betsy Wolf Regn about what they have learned from each other working together you find two kindred spirits whose passion and love overflows. 

Regn, the 38 -year old Haveford resident’s eyes tear up when she talks about what she has learned from her mom. 



“I have no greater teacher in my life than my mom. She is just a perfect model. She has always been a magnet for children. It’s because she respects them. She knows how to convey her love and passion for theater. The kids that work with us want to do their best because every single moment that’s what she expects and that’s what she models. She is a phenomenal educator,” said Regn. 


Her mom is equally moved.



“It’s amazing to be able to work with my daughter I always surround myself with the best people.  ...She is exceptional,” said Wolf. “I’ve learned how to openly express my emotions. I have learned honesty is always the best thing. We have a very honest relationship and she does not mince words and I say that in a positive way,” said Wolf.



“I’ve learned resiliency. I’ve seen her bounce back from many moments and acceptance. With open arms she receives all people, all children and all pets. A tremendous amount of acceptance,” she continues.



But she credits her own mother for inspiring her to follow her dream.  



“My mother lived until she was 96. She worked until she was 80 and read papers and novels until the day she died. She was my inspiration. Her being inspired me. She always supported me and my decisions and didn’t’ hesitate to question either. 



Wolf grew up on Earlington Road in Havertown and now lives in Wynnewood.



She credits her first role as Mrs. Santa Claus at Brookline Elementary School where she got to kiss Mr. Santa Claus as the start of her love of theater. 



Wolf, a teacher in the Lower Merion School District, retired to follow her dream ten years ago at the age of 57. She opened the Wolf Performing Arts Center at the Penn Wynne Church of the Holy Apostles. The program has grown so that they are moving to the St. Thomas of Villanova School in Bryn Mawr.  Before opening Wolf PAC she taught gifted students and ran an after school theater program. 



“I took a risk. I am very fortunate and I had a husband who supported it. Wolf PAC’s goal is not to make Broadway stars, it is to make confident children. The goal is to give children, because they



 need it so desperately, a safe place, a positive place. We have kids from over 49 schools and the friendships are overflowing and that’s what it’s all about. The proudest thing I do is to give kids confidence and it just blossoms,” said Wolf. 



“We would always say one day when we open our own theater school. Mom looked at me and said it’s now. I thought we were always dreaming. It marries all the things I love so much.  The hours are odd and you live in the theater, but I love it,” said Regn. 



Regn, following in her mother’s footsteps, is a mother of two toddlers, Brooke, 3, and Alexander, 2. She taught at Abington School District for 11 years, teaching English and creating a Drama curriculum for ninth graders. She would help her mom at the Wolf PAC camp after a full day of teaching. At the age of 33 she joined her mom working full-time at Wolf PAC. During her high school years she would go and help out her mom at the after school drama program at Bala Cynwyd choreographing dance. Dance was her first love.  



 “The fire and passion came from within the house but it was always innate. I always loved singing, acting, dancing and performing so I was in every possible theatrical activity growing up. I focused on dance and now I am the choreographer. It came from home but it was also within,” said Regn.



The Wolf PAC offers classes to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. They are broken up into two groups: the Wolf Cubs grades K through second and Wolf PAC group is third through eighth grade. Every two weeks the children perform for their family. They have a visiting artist program. 



The center offers workshops, private lessons and camps. Every year they perform two musicals at Rosemont College and at St. Joseph’s University. “Children of Eden” will open in June 12 at the Bluett Theater at St. Joseph’s University.



The Wolf PAC went to Prague and performed the play entitled “I never saw another Butterfly” at the Terezin Concentration Camp in Prague. The play tells the story of the poetry and art written by the children in the concentration camp. Out of 15,000 children only 100 survived the concentration camp.    They met Raja Englanderova, a survivor at Prague and performed for her. 



“We performed the play at the Kimmel center, senior centers and schools and will perform it again. It’s a magnificent piece. We are telling a very important story and it was amazing to perform this for Raja and see the reactions of the children,” said Wolf. 



Mother and daughter have many ideas for the future in their new space, but all of it lies in their dream to help children find their way with art. Mother and daughter talk of future plans; bringing theater to schools in Philadelphia, High School camps, a Mommy and Me program and an adult program.



“Theater is very collaborated and cooperative, that’s why it works. One of my favorite quotes is “Children who create do not destroy,’” said Wolf. 



“We have more ideas than manpower. We are always tinkering with new ideas,” said Regn



For more information, visit www.wolfperformingartscenter.org.