Mother/daughter duo Liz Gengle and Teresa Simmons are bringing a new performing arts program to North Central’s young residents this fall (submitted photo).

As families enjoy the remainder of summer vacation and begin to gear up for the new school year, there will be one more option available for after-school consideration – North Central Performing Arts. The new arts program was founded by Liz Gengle, owner and director, and her mom, Teresa Simmons, who bring almost 40 years of combined experience in education to the table – or stage, if you will.

A North Central resident and teacher for the past 15 years, six of them in theater, Gengle currently teaches theater at Madison Meadows Middle School, and the idea for the program came about rather naturally.

“This last year we put on a musical and performed at the Madison Center for the Arts and my mom, Teresa, came in and helped me with it,” Gengle recalled. “That kind of sparked our interest in wanting to start a program in the neighborhood.”

She added, “Our mission for this program is really to use theater to help build confidence in students. I think a lot of times theater can be either confidence building, or it can be kind of soul crushing for kids. So, our goal for the program is to just provide all kids with the opportunity to shine and build confidence.”

The mother/daughter duo hopes that classes, which are offered to young residents based on three progressive age groups ranging from age four through eighth graders, will translate beyond the stage, too.

Simmons, who taught for about 15 years before serving as a school principal for 13 years and is “retired,” added, “We’re teaching skills that can be used outside the classroom. We’re strengthening them with their confidence and their ability to have discussions and stand up for themselves.

“Life can be rough for kids, and this is an opportunity to help build some skills that…they can have fun in the class, but then when they leave, maybe they are a different person, and they can grow in an area that might help them outside the theater class. I just feel so strongly that kids need to believe in themselves,” Simmons said.

That love of helping children and foundation in education are amplified by the love of theater.

“The best thing about theater is that you can really, if you build the setting correctly with students, you are able to help them feel comfortable, and their guard can be let down,” Gengle said. “They are able to be who they truly are, have fun and be silly. That’s something that I love about teaching theater. For some of them, it’s their most fun part of the day because we play games and get to laugh and enjoy each other’s time. That’s kind of a big thing for me.”

Registration is now open for classes, which kick off in August and will be held at Ballet Theatre of Phoenix, 6201 N. 7th St. To learn more about North Central Performing Arts, visit



Hello, North Central neighbor — thank you for visiting!

Sign up to receive our digital issue in your inbox each month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.