- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Theater impresario Dylan Lawrence pulled off his first production at a new theater this weekend, directing, performing in and helping build sets for a 21-member cast production of “Shrek: The Musical.” Dylan is also 13.

After seeing a performance of “The Wizard of Oz” that Dylan and several others put together last summer at his home, family, friends and other children helped him with the much bigger production on a new outdoor stage, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1HSyCcO ) reported.

Jason and Megan Woita, friends of Dylan’s parents, decided to offer up some space outside their Lincoln home to Dylan as a place for him to direct larger productions - a space now called The Backyard Theatre and completely run by kids.

The 12-foot-by-8-foot stage has wing space, stage lighting and a sound system. Dylan, his father and Jason Woita finished building the structure this month.

Dylan, who caught the theater bug after seeing a production of “Pinocchio” when he was 6, started taking dance lessons and auditioning for touring shows.

“But I always wanted to do the directing part of it,” he said.

Alongside directing and performing as Lord Farquaad, Dylan sewed the costumes, designed the props, rented a sound system and created light cues using a software program on his laptop. Although he had help building the sets, such as Princess Fiona’s tower and Shrek’s swamp, the creativity and all major decisions were his.

“Dylan is very business-minded,” Megan Woita said. “He thinks like an adult. This stuff is a lot more high-tech than I thought it would be. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

The cast for “Shrek” is twice that of “Wizard,” Dylan said, with 21 members between the ages of 4 and 15.

Campbell Sharpe, 13, who played Princess Fiona, also served as musical director. She worked with other children privately on their solos, adjusting keys and octaves to better suit their vocal ranges.

About 115 people attended Friday’s show, said Dylan, who expected a similar number Saturday.

Katherine Schmit, 14, who played the Wicked Witch and also served as dance choreographer, said the main goal was to have fun.

“It’s the idea of kids putting on a show that people love,” she said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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