The Indiana Insider Blog

All the state’s a stage

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My youngest daughter will be performing Friday and Saturday at The Artist’s Studio in her first youth production, Pinnochio. She is one of 12 actors, ages 5 to 11, who have been on stage at least one night a week for the past 10 weeks all with the goal of taking a bow under the bright lights. While I won’t pretend that the production will attract the group tourism crowd, I do think youth plays are a great way to introduce families to what theatre is all about – and at a lower cost, typically $10 and under.

Here are a few of the other local youth theaters in Indiana that are worth checking out:

Young Actors Theatre (YAT) is the oldest independent youth theatre in Indianapolis, dating back to 1976. Led by Justin and Catherine Wade, who started their careers at YAT as youth performers, it is located in the Historic Athenaeum building in downtown Indianapolis. Performances are in the spring, summer and fall. Next up, Cinderella by the YAT Kidz in January 2010.

The Asante Children’s Theatre (ACT) in Indianapolis helps youth discover their hidden talents through the traditions of African and African-American performance arts.  Instructors use theatre, music, dance and storytelling to develop life skills. They also create wonderful productions through the ACT Academy as well as a professional touring company of ACT alumni.

Indianapolis also has the wonderful Children’s Theatre Institute which began in Chicago in 1992 as TheatreWorks. Indiana native James Leagre launched its first Indiana season in 2000. The institute now offers an Elementary Repertory and Junior High Repertory Company that perform throughout the year. You can catch the first production of the current season, “Vaudeville’s My Home,” Nov. 20 – 22.

According to its web site, Fort Wayne’s Firehouse Theater “protects your right to yell ‘Theater’ in a crowded Firehouse.” Along with that, they have produced a whopping 74 shows or events in the converted Enginehouse #10 – for a total of 289 performances – since June 2006! They currently are gearing up for their annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” set to begin Dec. 11.

Civic Youth Theatre of Greater Lafayette presents four productions a year starring youth ages 6 and older. Like most youth theatres, young people not only fill the stage, they take care of all the back-stage roles as well. The all-youth troupe will stage a production of Snow White, Feb. 26 – 28, 2010.

CrazyLake Art House in Greenfield has an art gallery, offers a plein aire and artist-in-residence program AND has an acting company. (Wow.) Teen actors get in on the artistry through a summer drama camp and special productions all year long, including “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” on Dec. 4 – 6 and Dec. 13.

If you – or your kids – love the theatre, why not check out a youth production? You may turn that love of acting into a hobby when you get back home.

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