June 3, 2011
At 5 years old, Maryville Young Players giving youth a chance to perform
MARYVILLE, Mo. - More than 100 young musical actors are once again taking to a Northwest Missouri State University stage this summer, continuing a summer tradition that provides an important creative outlet for local children.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, Maryville Young Players - a summer musical theater camp for second through ninth graders - is bringing princesses, magic wands, fairy godmothers and a glass slipper to the stage. The group presents "Cinderella" June 11 and 12 at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts on the Northwest campus.
Performances are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12. Tickets are $5 and available for purchase at Hy-Vee or at the doors one hour prior to each show.
Maryville Young Players was the brainchild in 2007 of Vanessa Parsons, music director at the Horace Mann Laboratory School on the Northwest campus, and Pat Immel, associate professor of theater at Northwest.
Parsons and Immel developed the program as a way to introduce children and youth to musical theater while keeping them involved with the arts during summer months. The summer workshop runs for 10 days, ending with a full musical theater production. Workshop participants experience all aspects of theater, including acting, singing, choreography and blocking, set and prop design, lighting and sound.
"It's more than just singing and dancing," Immel said. "Hopefully this is teaching them life lessons, and they won't be afraid of getting up and speaking in front of a group of people, which is a huge ability to have. They also are learning the ability to work as a team. Everybody relies on each other, from the tech students to the leads."
And for many of its regular participants, the camp is the highlight of their year.
"We get a lot of compliments from parents because some of these kids aren't interested in doing athletics," Immel said. "They would have to go to a bigger city for a camp like this, and this is a big city thing that we're doing in Maryville. We're glad that we can provide this, and a lot of the parents are just so thankful that their children who like to sing and dance have an outlet."
The Maryville Young Players began with about 30 area kids performing "The Princess and the Pea" in June 2007. The next summer, about 50 kids participated in a production of "School House Rock Live! Jr."
Last year's camp attracted more than 100 kids for the Maryville Young Players' production of "Seussical Jr." This year, to better manage the production, participants were divided into two separate casts. Parsons and Immel doubled the number of performances from two to four with each cast performing two of the shows.
"It's grown amazingly," Immel said. "There are some kids who couldn't participate this year because they have aged out. They're performing in high school and hopefully some of the skills they've learned here are benefiting them."
Immel and Parsons say they are proud of the camp's growth and hope it will continue. They also commend the parents, as well as local organizations and businesses, who have provided support to the camp.
"We truly couldn't run Maryville Young Players without all of our volunteer staff members," Parsons said. "Costumes, props, photography, stage management - it's all done with parents and community volunteers. That's one of the ways we've been able to keep our camp costs and ticket prices low. We also have tremendous support from Maryville's business community, who bought ads for our program or made donations to our group."
For more information about Maryville Young Players go to http://www.maryvilleyoungplayers.org/ or find it on Facebook.
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Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468