Theater program teaches kids singing, dancing, drama


    By Marcy Swan

    The youth theater program at the Villa Institute of Performing Art in Springville teaches kids more than just drama, it teaches them discipline and responsibility.

    This is the only after-school program of its kind in the area where young people can learn singing, dancing and drama, said Marilyn Brown, co-founder of the Villa Playhouse Theatre and VIP Arts Academy.

    Brown said the students learn all kinds of skills, including how to work together.

    “It’s a community effort. If you don’t do your part, you let people down. Just like in life. That’s the great thing about drama that I love – it teaches people discipline,” Brown said.

    Still the favorite part for the children is performing, said Anne Murdock, director of education for the theater.

    Eighty students are now in the production of “Annie” being held at the Villa Theater in Springville.

    Brown said the show is double-cast so more youth could participate. Over 200 people auditioned for the play.

    “Those kids are so good, and they are having so much fun. They just can’t wait to be together,” Brown said.

    “Most people don’t think of this as a Christmas show but it takes place at Christmas time. It is definitely a Christmas show,” Brown said.

    It’s a fun place to bring your kids and grandchildren because so many people identify with Annie, she said.

    Youth theater classes meet once a week and average 20 students. Tuition is $30 a month, but no one is turned away for lack of money, Brown said.

    Scholarships are offered to those who can’t pay, or mothers can work at the theater for the tuition for their kids, she said.

    The students audition and are placed in classes according to their ability, Brown said.

    There are a couple different performing groups.

    “The Main Street Players” are the advanced group, said Marie Knowlton, public relations and business director for the theater.

    The Players will be performing an original musical version of “Sleeping Beauty” in April, Knowlton said.

    “The Spotlighters” are intermediate students. They will perform the musical, “Castles and Dragons” in May, she said.

    A Shakespeare for youth class will be starting in January, Knowlton said.

    Murdock said since it is difficult to find plays for children, the theater has started writing its own.

    Murdock wrote the script for both “Sleeping Beauty” and “Castles and Dragons.”

    Murdock said her daughter, Cammy Jensen, wrote the music and choreographed the movements for both musicals.

    Registration dates are January 4 and January 11 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the theater.

    For more information on the youtheatre, call Knowlton at 489-3088, 12:00 to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    “Annie” will play every Friday, Saturday and Monday until December 23, at 7:30 p.m.

    Tickets range in price from $7 to $9. The theater is located at 254 South Main, Springville.

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