GTPulse: Old Town Playhouse’s Holiday Cabaret Premieres Friday

Youth theatre is beneficial for kids in so many ways. I credit a lot of my current imagination and thought process to my time spent performing in front of an audience as a child. When you’re a kid, theatre teaches you that you have a voice that people will listen to, not only other kids but also a roomful of adults. My mom could sense my shyness when I was little and thought that theatre would be a proactive way to get me more comfortable with not only my peers but with myself, and it worked. Being small and standing before bright lights and a crowd of people forces you to understand that being in front of a lot of people might scare you, but it can’t hurt you.

Old Town Playhouse’s youth theatre program, Young Company, has been teaching kids how to use their voice and creativity since the late ‘90s when the program was started under the name Traverse City Children’s Theatre. Christmastime last year, they put on their first Holiday Cabaret, and they’ve reimagined a way to do it all again this year. Education and Young Company Manager Melissa May directed the show and is excited and proud of the work that the kids have put in.

Pictured: Jada Stewart

“Doing it in a virtual setting has been interesting, but it’s still going to be a great experience,” she said.

This year they were able to accept video submissions instead of in-person auditions for the cabaret, and the show was going to be streamed live. After the statewide pause that has affected many indoor gatherings, so instead, it was pre-recorded. Folks can still expect to hear some of their favorite holiday tunes.

“You’re definitely going to see some of your classic holiday favorites. We’ve got some great songs this year, it’s a little bit more jazzy and Motown. We have the Jackson 5 version of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, This Christmas by Don Hathaway. Also, It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Santa Baby. So it kind of spans over a little bit of everything. We also threw in a few musical theatre Christmas songs too.

In a normal year, Melissa would have had choreography to go along with the musical numbers too, but to accommodate virtual rehearsals and filming, the movement is minimal. The Young Company performers were each filmed individually as opposed to performing all together to follow safety guidelines and keep everything as low contact as possible.

Classes for Young Company are typically offered in the spring and fall, and to help stave off additional boredom this winter, they are offering online classes for the season.

Pictured: Miah Lessner

“In the summer we do our dance musical theatre workshop Broadway Showstoppers. That’s been going on for eight years now and it’s something that gives our older students an opportunity to perform more challenging music outside of our regular Young Company repertoire. ”

Within the next couple of months, they’ll release their four-week summer camp production. So if you have an adolescent in your life that loves to perform, or you think they would benefit from dipping their toes into the world of performing arts, keep updated with www.oldtownplayhouse.com/young-co.

Pictured: Emily Dunphey

“It helps young people get better at public speaking, and really helps build their confidence which is great.”

Normally a ticketed show, The Holiday Cabaret is a free event that will be streamed from the Old Town Playhouse YouTube page, as well as all of their other social media pages this Friday at 7 p.m. Donations to the playhouse can be made through their website or their Facebook page. What better way to spend a 2020 winter evening than with a cup of cocoa and some Christmas cheer brought to you by some budding local talent?

“We want our students’ talent to be shown and we’re hoping that the community will show up to support them. We’ve been rehearsing this show for about eight weeks now. They’re ready to show the world what they’ve been working on.”

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Categories: GTPulse