Stage Right’s co-owners aren’t worried about a glut of kids theaters, however. They’ve packed the theater for their first two productions – “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Peter Pan and Wendy” – and are anticipating good attendance for their third outing. So far, the plays have more than earned back the money put into them.
But why did these four East County stage moms – Linda Thompson, Kami Stile, Theresa Kelsey and Teresa Bittner – decide to start a new theater group last April, especially in these tough economic times?
“We all have a passion for theater,” said Thompson. “Our kids are all actors. The kids that come here are awesome kids. They are not in trouble. They love being here. It’s a great social scene for these kids.”
“Our kids were growing up and getting older; they have been acting around town in other places,” said Kelsey. “They wanted to push the envelope and do more mature plays. We thought it would be a great opportunity if we could start to offer workshops and help these kids grow in their talents.
“A lot of these kids do lighting, stagecraft, anything you can imagine. It was not just about the acting. They get the responsibility along with it. They are given tasks and are responsible for deadlines. It’s given them real-world experience in being responsible and having jobs. We have lot of talented kids, too.”
Although they’ve only been in operation less than a year, they’ve already seen a lot of growth in the participants.
“My older daughter (Catherine) is one of those who got into acting because she had a fear of public speaking,” said Kelsey. “She landed a role, and ever since then she’s been hooked. I saw her just blossom. She has self confidence that she’s able to talk to anybody. She can do oral reports in front of the class.”
The young actors’ poise and confidence was evident in a recent rehearsal. The scene was charged with emotion and a bit of humor, followed by questions put to the director by the youngest girls, and afterwards there was a strong sense of camaraderie as the cast chatted and exchanged hugs before heading home.
“These kids are from schools from all over the area,” said Thompson. “They never say, ‘What school do you go to?’ and there’s a judgment. They say, ‘You’re an actor – so am I.’ They want to be here. My son has met kids that he would never have met, and they are all friends.”
That feeling of connectedness is a strong theme in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” the play upon which the movie starring Judy Garland was based. Stage Right will be performing two of the hit songs from the movie: “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis” and “The Trolley Song.”
“It is a very well-written story of a great American family named Smith,” said Bryan Anthony, the play’s creative director. “They could be your next-door neighbors, but it tells the story of their love for each other and wanting to stay where they grew up. It kind of reconfirms that there is no place like home; there is nobody like your mom and your dad. It tells the importance of that.”
“It’s such a great uplifting story that people can come and feel good about,” said Kelsey. “We all need positives, especially with the economy and all of this bad news. Why not take a couple of hours and (experience) light, fun storytelling?”
The play will be performed Feb. 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., and Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for kids 10 and under. On Feb. 8 and 12, tickets will be $5 for adults 55 and older. The theater is inside the Nick Rodriguez Center, 213 F St. in downtown Antioch.
For more information or to order tickets, go online or call 925-216-4613.