My daughter attended Lakewood Playhouse's Youth Theater Camp last week and ended the week with a performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an hour-long show pulled together and memorized in just five days.
It was cute and campy, and of course, the very talented girl playing the role of Mike TV's mother riveted audiences each time she took to the limelight. That goes without saying, even though she had her heart set on the role of Violet. That is a story for a different time.
What I liked about the show was that it was sold out. Family and friends came out to support their children and classmates and have fun along the way. And it was a fun show because those children were having fun, and that translated to energy that waved through the audience. I see that every now and then during "adult" shows, but that energy is almost a sure thing at a children's show. And there are few things cuter than a gaggle of toddlers and young sprites playing the roll of Oompa Loompas.
I have written about the niche youth theater not only fits in the communities but in the bottom line of the theaters. Such programs not only feed the pipeline of actors and volunteers for shows on the mainstages of theaters but they also provide an infusion of cash during the down summer months with programs that are covered by tuition for the weekly camps or grants or both. Ticket sales are all gravy to keep the theater going between the end of one season and the beginning of the next. And while there certainly is a practical reason for theaters to stage youth theater, I think is strikes at the heart of community theater's core mission of bringing art to the people. These children will have an experience to remember and share for years to come and spread the word about how the arts enriched them.
While Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a one-night only engagement, there are still plenty of chances to see youth theater before the regular season starts up later this month for most community theaters in the South Sound.
Encore! Youth Theater is presenting The Real Story of Little Red Riding Hood at 2:30 and 5 p.m. on Saturday at the theater, 6615 38th Ave. N.W. All tickets are $6. This is the story of the little lady in her red cape, but from the wolf's point of view. Next weekend Encore! will present the musical A Little Bit of Magic on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Written by Gail Golden and directed by Encore! founder Kathleen McGilliard, this audience participation piece is for the whole family.
Tacoma Little Theatre is staging Big Bad tomorrow and Monday. This smart and wickedly funny play even lets the audience determine the outcome of the play.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse is staging How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tomorrow and at 2 p.m. Saturday, as well as Willy Wonka Jr. at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit TMP.org for more information.
[Encore! Youth Theater, The Real Story of Little Read Riding Hood, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., $6, 6615 38th Ave. N.W., Gig Harbor, 253.858.2282]
[Encore! Youth Theater, A Little Bit of Magic, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., 6615 38th Ave. N.W., Gig Harbor, 253.858.2282]
[Tacoma Little Theatre, Big Bad, Friday, Aug. 7, 2:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10, 7 p.m., $7, 210 N. I St., Tacoma, 253.272.2281]
[Tacoma Musical Playhouse, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Friday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8 at 2 p.m., $5, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6867]
[Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Willy Wonka Jr., Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 9 at 2 p.m., $5, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6867]