- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - The roar of chatter slowly builds as the kids and teens share stories, gossip and joke. But once it’s time to go through the number again, they go silent and move to their spots.

The music starts. The young actors harmonize. As the Genie, Cecilia Lopez breaks into choreography as she belts out “Friend Like Me.”

“I’m in love with acting, basically,” the 14-year-old Anderson resident said. “It’s what I want to do.”

If it weren’t for rehearsals, Lopez said much of her summer vacation would be spent in front of a screen watching Netflix.

Instead, Mainstage and Commons theaters are giving kids a summer activity with their youth productions.

Anderson’s Mainstage Theatre has spent the summer hosting workshops and rehearsing its production of “Aladdin Jr.”

Alexandria’s The Commons Theatre is preparing for its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Cinderella.”

Directors from both shows said the productions offer a productive activity during students’ vacation, while introducing them to the magic of theater.

“Anyone who has ever done theater will tell you that getting youth involved is important,” said Bradley Jensen, co-director of The Commons’ “Cinderella. “Especially today, more than in the past, music, theater and art programs are being cut or (have become) after-school (activities) only.”

The youth camp at The Commons started the first week of June, and since then, about 35 kids have rehearsed three hours a day, three days a week.

The actors didn’t even step on the stage for the first two weeks. Instead they learned the ins-and-outs of theater and focused on character work.

Seven-year-old Morgan Prophet said she’s gotten into character as Joy, one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters.

“I get to yell at Cinderella and make her do a bunch of stuff,” she said. “And the girl who plays the part of Cinderella is my best friend. And her brother is my other best friend. He’s basically my BFF.”

She said it’s exciting to yell at her best friend, but it’s even better that she gets to spend rehearsals with her pals.

Karen Sipes, director of “Aladdin,” said volunteers at Mainstage realized how their introductions to theater as children made them fall in love with the process, so they wanted to pay it forward.

In addition to regular rehearsals, Mainstage hosted two Saturday workshops to teach the kids all about costuming, set design, theater etiquette, terminology, hair and makeup, props and choreography.

“I hope they learn to appreciate what it takes to put a show on its feet - how much cooperation and community is involved,” Sipes said. “No one is a star; it’s an ensemble with the actors, the crew, the technicians - everyone works together to put this magic on stage.”

“Aladdin Jr.” runs at Mainstage Theatre July 21 to 23, and July 29 to 31. Look for more information and a review of the musical in The Herald Bulletin July 21.

“Cinderella” runs at The Commons Theatre Aug. 5 to 7, 13 and 14. Look for more information and a review of the musical in The Herald Bulletin Aug. 4.


Source: The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin, https://bit.ly/29NEQRr


Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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