The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Kids get week of professional theater experience

 

June 25, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Garrett Cameron, a theater director with Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, leads several youth in their first reading of "Sleeping Beauty," on Monday. The two-show production will be held this Saturday at the Ironwood Historic Theatre.

By TOM LAVENTURE

tlaventure@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood - A week-long youth theater internship at the Historic Ironwood Theatre concludes with a zany retelling of "Sleeping Beauty," as a 1930s Hollywood comedy-musical.

Around 60 kids ages 7 to 18 showed up early Monday morning to audition as actors, singers, dancers and everything in-between. Organizers from Prairie Fire Children's Theatre said the most important quality while auditioning was a willingness to have fun and participate in the week-long activity.

"I'm a dancer in this show," said Nina Osier, 12, of Ironwood.

This is Osier's fourth year with the youth program. She plans to take theater in school.

"That's why I want to keep doing it," Osier said.

The kids will give two performances at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, June 29. All seats are $5 with proceeds going to support youth programming.

The directors, Paige Woods and Garrett Cameron, are both out of Western Illinois University. Cameron graduated last year and Woods continues to study theater. Both are with Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, a touring company based in Barrett, Minnesota, that sends college theater students on a 10-week, 10-city summer tour with a one-week youth production at each stop.

"We teach, direct and we're in the show," Woods said. "So we're actors, directors and teachers."

Other Prairie Fire productions stick closely to the classical narrative, Cameron said. "Sleeping Beauty" is an exception where the central character falling asleep and being woken up is the only familiar scene, he said.

"That's pretty much it," Cameron said. "Everything else has changed in this version."

There are no princes or princesses or fairies, Woods said. It's also gender neutral which makes the production work for any group, she said.

"It's a comedy really, and there's parts for everyone no matter boy or girl," Woods said.

The kids are inspiring and it's wonderful to see how much they grow in one week, she said.

The goal is not to select kids who want to pursue theater, she said. Any kid can take part and if they develop a love for theater or performing that they didn't realize they had then that is a plus, she said.

"Theater teaches so much if just about being a better human," Woods said. "It teaches the responsibilities of having to learn the lines and dances and everything they need to learn and memorize, but they are a team, they are a family and they help each other and guide each other and can also cheer each other on."

As a summer program, it's just great to get a bunch of kids with their own lives, with some who are stressed out, or are having a difficult time at school or at home, Cameron said. The program offers a positive outlet in which to immerse themselves and release all that energy, he said.

"We get to act like kids ourselves the entire time which is lovely," Cameron said. "Most of the time we are adults living adult lives and so getting to hang out with kids all week and just being high energy all week is great. I love it."

Zona Wick, president of the Ironwood Historic Theatre Board, said it's part of the mission to provide youth with opportunities to have a theatre experience.

"It's very important here at Ironwood Theater that we involve youth in our programs," Wick said.

Participation in the one-week residency is free for the children, she said. A grant from Gogebic Range United Way pays for the program and admission proceeds can then support other youth programming, she said.

Bruce Greenhill, operations manager of the Historic Ironwood Theatre, said about two-thirds of the kids have been part of previous production and about a third are new kids doing this for the first time.

"It's great to see the kids develop over the years," Greenhill said. "They obviously love it to be coming back the next year."

 
 

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