Children’s Theatre offers York Youth a Chance to Shine
One of the most popular events of the theatrical calendar for the Yorkshire Playhouse is the annual Children’s Theatre production that takes place each June. In fact, in the 18 years since it was started, they have sold out every seat and every performance. The Yorkshire Playhouse Children’s Theatre program was the brainchild of director John Baker III, who has been organizing the merry madness since his own children were small. For the 50 or so kids who participate on stage each summer, Children’s Theatre is a great opportunity to grow as a performer and as a member of the community.
This summer’s production will be Pinky and the Plumed Knight, written by Frederic Chapin and adapted for the stage by John Baker. This is the sixth script Baker will have written for the children of York. Three of his plays have been published after being performed at the playhouse. “I started writing because there weren’t enough good scripts that had a cast large enough that it would work for what we’re trying to do,” said Baker. “I try to make sure that every child has a few lines, because if they want to grow as an actor, I believe they have to have lines. I don’t like when there are 19 kids...standing there as a tree swaying. If you want to grow as an actor, you’ve got to learn how to deliver a line and project and develop a character. That’s what we focus on.”
Pinky and the Plumed Knight is about a little boy in Scotland who accidentally brings a suit of armor to life. It involves music, magic, comedy and adventure. There’s even a sidekick pig. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
The Children’s Theatre program is open to kids entering second grade up to entering senior year of high school. However, not everyone is assured a part. Auditions are required and there’s no guarantees of being cast, as Baker limits the size of the cast to make sure everyone has a quality experience. Auditions consist of reading from the script and some improvisation games. Baker keeps it light and fun for the kids, with little pressure.
If they are cast, the kids can expect 3 ½ weeks of intense rehearsal, five mornings a week, to get the show ready. Then there’s the week of production, during which they will perform four times. It’s strenuous, but the kids involved love it.
With intricate costumes and makeup, innovative sets and fun props, the Children’s Theatre productions are always a delight--for the young performers as well as their parents and other fans.
Mark your calendars for Auditions on Saturday, May 18 -- 10AM - 12PM and Monday & Tuesday, May 20 & 21 -- 3:30PM-6PM and Performances on June 20-23.
Guest blogger Chrystal Houston has been in a number of productions at the Yorkshire Playhouse, including the recent production of Diary of Anne Frank. She is also mom to three dramatic daughters, one of whom has been involved in Children’s Theatre and other productions at the playhouse.