A celebration of 25 years: Brea’s Youth Theatre & the magic of theatre education

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The performers & parents of our youth theatre program themselves are our greatest advocates for how this program & theatre can truly be a life-changing experience.  One of Stagelight’s former performers from 1995, Geoff Kraemer, still talks about his time as a third grader first stepping his foot into the theatre world: “It was my favorite place to be growing up. I made lifelong friends, I gained confidence and self-esteem, and I have received countless hours of entertainment as a result of the love for theater that Stagelight provided for me”. After over 20 shows with Brea’s Youth Theatre, our partnership program with Stagelight Family Productions, he emerged a more confident person ready to take on whatever challenges the future held. Another performer, Audrey Bivens, is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre with a Dance and Arts Administration minor because of her time spent with Stagelight at the Curtis and shares “I would not be where I am without Janice, Lindsey, Katie, and this amazing company”.

At the helm of our incredible partnership production company, Stagelight Family Productions, is founder/producer/director Janice Kraus. Her journey with youth theatre began with her own daughter. Upon discovering how much her daughter was growing as an individual and truly enjoying herself in her own theatre classes, Janice decided to start her own theatre company. Thus Stagelight Family Productions was born. Out of love, curiosity, and a desire to spread the joy of theatre to more children. With Stagelight’s mission to build “a strong and rewarding future for young people in the arts”,  Janice and her team are not only having a great time putting on a theatre production, they are instilling the important values of self-confidence, individuality, and character in kids & teens alike to be built on for the rest of their lives.

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The families of Brea’s Youth Theatre celebrate founder, director, and producer Janice Kraus on 25 years of service.

It was my favorite place to be growing up. I made lifelong friends, I gained confidence and self-esteem, and I have received countless hours of entertainment as a result of the love for theater that Stagelight provided for me.

Now putting on a production with hundreds of kids each year is certainly no easy feat. It takes months of preparation, planning, and rehearsal. Janice let us in on some of the steps that go into creating a show from script to stage.

Step 1: Selection of the Production

Janice reminds us that “making the right choice for a large youth theatre production is key to the process”. The availability of the show has to be considered. Rights for the show must be obtained before it can be produced, so some shows must be thrown out during the selection process.

Step 2: Study the Script

The script is where it all begins. The director scans the script to get an overall point of view on the work and vision of the production before meeting with the creative team to discuss these choices. The creative team brings in their own ideas and a production concept is molded together.

Step 3: Auditions

For the show to be cast, actors must audition! All students registered for the production are able to audition; giving them the opportunity to experience the process of showing a short snippet of their singing, dancing, etc to be considered for certain roles.

Step 4: Rehearsal Process

After the show is cast, rehearsal begins. The cast spends six weeks learning choreography and music for the show. In rehearsal, scenes are blocked and formed after much repetition and discovery. Janice also works specifically with the lead actors to develop their characters.

Step 5: Move into the theater

The sets for the show are moved into the theater and the technical work continues.  The creative team including the lighting designer, set designer, costume designer, technical director, and stage manager all work together to form the production’s full vision.

Step 6: Opening Night!

After all the fun and hard work of rehearsals and tech week, the show opens! The thrill of opening night excites everyone involved and the cast, crew, and team will continue to have a great time throughout the rest of the performances.

Next up in the journey of Brea’s Youth Theatre is its winter production of The Wizard of Oz. Our program has embarked on the magical quest to Oz before and it remains “a favorite among all ages”. With our parent meeting behind us, the excitement for starting rehearsals is building. Janice shares her favorite moment of working on this show is seeing “the faces of our performers when we introduce the special effects such as the melting witch and the flying monkeys”. Registration for The Wizard of Oz is still open and if there’s any doubt about whether or not to sign up, Janice ensures “this experience will be a memorable one for your child” and looks forward to introducing the magic of live theatre to new families.

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Registration for The Wizard of Oz closes October 26 at 5pm. Registration fee is $155 for Brea Residents (those who live, work or go to school in Brea), and $170 for Non-Brea Residents. To register, log onto www.cityofbrea.net, and connect to EZ Connect, Class number #24502

The first day of the class is Friday, October 28, 2016, at the Brea Senior Center. Production dates are January 12 – 29, 2017, Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. at the Curtis Theatre. All professional photos of our Brea’s Youth Theatre productions are provided by Bill Warshaw.

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