By Lindsay Carey
For the last four weeks, participants of the Southington Parks and Recreation Youth Summer Theater program have been practicing for their performances this month.
The Southington Parks and Recreation Youth Summer Theater program provides educational experience in theater to children of in three different age groups, the difficult and length of the program grows in intensity as the kids mature in age.
A junior program for elementary school students, between grades 3 and 6, teaches kids the basics of dancing, singing and acting in just two weeks. At the end of their training, the junior group performs songs from different musicals. About 65 children participated in the junior program this summer.
The Footlights group, which is for those entering grades 7 through 9, will perform “Peter Pan Jr.,” based on the Disney film, on July 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. at Southington High School. Their production incorporates songs from the Disney film as well as songs from the Tinkerbell movie.
Alyssa Fontana Bunel, a former participant in the program and the Southington High School Drama Club’s music director, is directing Footlights this summer.
“They rehearse every day of the week for five hours working specifically towards the goal of putting on a show,” said Lisa Carroll, the program coordinator. “But we do it in a way that isn’t super stressful. They get to learn the craft while having fun.”
The Footlights group rehearses for four weeks, while the Spotlights, grades nine through 12, rehearse for five weeks.
Carroll explained that the Footlights group is allowed to read from their scripts during auditions, but the Spotlights are expected to have entire monologues memorized to be considered for a part.
Not only does the program intensify in difficulty, but the shows chosen for the groups become more mature.
The Spotlights will perform “Young Frankenstein,” a musical that is based on the comedy film adaption of Mary Shelley’s famous novel.
The production is directed by Kristy Smith, who has worked with the program for seven years.
According the Carroll, their training is the most challenging because they are expected to learn full fledged choreography on top of their lines and music. The 44 Spotlights rehearse Monday through Friday for six hours, a huge time commitment for high school students with the summer off.
“It’s a unique experience,” said Carroll, who has been with program for 26 years. “Unlike some other activities, theater allows them to get the experience of being on a team with common goal where we all win.”
The Spotlights will perform on July 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. at Southington High School.
Tickets for both groups’ shows are available at the Parks and Recreation office for $8, for seniors and students the tickets are $5.