The Southington Youth Summer Theater program is ready to hit the stage in the coming weeks for the 2017 season. All shows are held in the Southington High School auditorium at 7 p.m. and the series kicks off this Friday, July 7. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in the Recreation office at Town Hall or at the door.
Program coordinator Lisa Carroll said that this year’s “Back to School” theme was created because each play involves school as the setting. Students do not need to audition to join the program; they just register online to join a session. This year, locals couldn’t wait to go “back to school.”
“We sold out in 52 seconds,” Carroll said. “We opened registration at 6 p.m. and by 6:01 there was already a waitlist.”
Since Mother Nature called for extra snow days, only two weeks of summer vacation were available for the youth theater program, so all students had to learn and memorize their lines in mere hours. Students filled DePaolo Middle School every day, rotating which group got stage time, in order to meet their deadline.
The July 7 performance will feature students entering third through sixth grades. Third through fifth graders will perform a one-act variety show titled “Born to Learn” with different musical theater numbers, followed by the sixth graders who will put on “Schoolhouse Rock,” a one-act musical with songs from the Saturday morning cartoons.
Actors rehearsed for just eight days, two and a half hours each day, to prepare for the show.
“The fact that they learned everything in 18 hours is incredible,” said Lisa Carroll, who started with summer theater in 1989. She said there are 70 kids in total between the two elementary level shows.
On Friday July 14 and Saturday, July 15, middle school participants will open the curtain for Legally Blonde, Jr., based on the popular film where Elle Woods attends Harvard Law School in order to reunite with her boyfriend but learns about her own self-worth. About 55 students are involved in the show, which is directed by Alyssa Fontana Bunel.
High school students prepared “Fame,” which can be viewed on Friday, July 21 and Saturday, July 22. “Fame” tells the story of young performers as they face the challenges and joys of attending a prestigious arts high school. It is directed by Kristianna Smith and features students entering grades nine through 12. Parental guidance is suggested due to mature themes and content.
Summer youth theater is a recreation department program and began over 30 years ago for students in grades 7 to 12. Carroll said the program has really grown over the years, adding different age divisions and increased participation.
Summer Theater Junior (grades 3 to 5) is a two-week program where students learn the basic elements of performance, as well as presence, teamwork, and commitment. The Worklights program (grade 6) is a new entity that bridges the Junior and Footlights (grades 7 and 8) program. The spotlights program is for students entering grades 9 through 12 and is the highest division of youth theater.
“When I started, there was an average of 45 kids in total,” she said. “The fact that it significantly increased is awesome.”
For more information, contact the Southington Recreation office at (860) 276- 6219.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.