Outstanding Children’s Theater in Annapolis

In the words of our late founder, Bobbi Smith, The Talent Machine Company is “a magical mystery tour, the most rewarding experience of my performing life, my favorite people.” A dancer and performer, Bobbi founded this musical theater company for children to fulfill her dream of giving young people the chance both to spread their theatrical wings and learn the value of dedication, commitment and teamwork.

Bobbi’s legacy continues to touch lives through her daughter and Talent Machine Company president, Lea Capps, her sister, Vicki Smith, and hundreds of alumni, donors and long-time show attendees who also believe in Bobbi’s unique dream.

The Talent Machine produces three full-length, professional-quality musicals each year, and is committed to bringing the joy of musical theater to audiences everywhere, from school fairs and senior centers to community fund-raisers and special events.

Many of the children who have performed with the Company over the years have gone on to professional careers as directors, choreographers, composers and Broadway dancers and actors.

The Talent Machine Company, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on ticket sales, grants and donations to share Bobbi’s byword – ENERGY – with its cast members, families, audiences and the entire community.

New Penguin Project Partnership Announced

The Talent Machine Company is the first Central Maryland partner of The Penguin Project, an award-winning nationwide program that provides a supportive, encouraging theater environment for children with disabilities. Beginning in 2024, Talent Machine and the Penguin Project will work together to produce one show each year featuring young artists with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other neurological disorders. These children will be joined on stage by a dedicated group of “peer mentors” – young people the same age without disabilities who have volunteered to work side-by-side with the performers through four months of rehearsals and the final show.

Established in 2004, The Penguin Project has demonstrated that when children participate in the performing arts, it enhances social interaction, communication skills, self-confidence and self-esteem. The impact of the program has reached beyond the stage to create a social network for children who previously had very few friends and limited social opportunities.

The Penguin Project was recognized for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people, earning the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award presented by a partnership involving the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Lea Capps
Photo credit: Allison Zaucha

Lea Capps

A performer since the age of three, Lea Capps has been in such shows as Evita, Singin’ in the Rain and A Chorus Line, and has performed on national television and at the White House. For the past 20 years, however, Lea’s most inspirational role has been to lead The Talent Machine Company – an organization dedicated to giving children the opportunity to experience the joy and power of musical theater. Lea took over as Executive Director after the unexpected death of her mother and Company founder, Bobbi Smith.

In addition to her leadership role with the Company, Lea also often serves as director and choreographer for Company productions and supports area middle school theater programs as well. Lea has a degree in psychology from UMBC and considers two of her best “credits” her husband, Michael Blonder, and their daughter, Samantha Blonder, a Talent Machine alum and now a marine biologist.

Teacher and child

Our Vision, Mission & Values

Our Vision: A community where all children have the opportunity to experience the joy and power of musical theater to develop creativity, build confidence, and learn the value of commitment and teamwork.

Our Mission: To make that vision a reality, we produce professional-quality performances, setting an expectation for excellence in children’s theater, involving youth from the Central Maryland region.

Our Values: 

We believe:

  • In the inherent potential of every child.
  • That an investment in musical theater for children and youth is an investment in a healthy community.
Bobbi Smith, Company Founder
Bobbi Smith, Company Founder

We are guided by our dedication to:

  • Creative expression: exploring and discovering the joy of performing.
  • Responsibility: doing one’s best to achieve a goal.
  • Commitment: a willingness to work hard.
  • Teamwork: accountability to the greater whole.
  • Professionalism: setting high standards for excellence.
  • Inclusivity: welcoming all children and families.

Funding for The Talent Machine Company

The Talent Machine Company is grateful for the ongoing grant support of the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County.

Arts Council Grant Support







In addition, The Penguin Project is made possible in part by a grant from The Arc Maryland.

For additional lists of sponsors and donors, visit our Gala page.