Most Tuesday evenings during the school year unfold rather dramatically for The Theatre Project's youth program.

There is singing, line memorization, choreography and more for kids ranging in age from 5–18 preparing for whatever musical is coming up.

It is an hour of organized fun with a touch of chaos, which is to be expected with an average of 125 kids per production.

The community youth theater program has grown quite a bit from when it began about eight years ago with seven kids, said Danalyn Schmidt-Clingman, artistic director for The Theatre Project.

And the stage is set for the program to grow even more with theater opportunities for both children and adults, Schmidt-Clingman said.

A good example of why the program needs to grow can be seen at upcoming performances of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set for Friday and Saturday, July 13–14, at Creative Avenues, 835 N. 26th Street.

There the audience will find the young man who played Shrek in the December production of "Shrek The Musical Jr." and now in the role of Demetrius, a young man who gets caught up a severe case of switched romantic affections thanks to a love potion in the hands of a naughty sprite.

"He took to Shakespeare like a fish in water," Schmidt-Clingman said.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" has a cast of 21, ranging in age from 11 to 57, and those younger actors eager to take on more difficult roles are the reason the youth program needs to expand, Schmidt-Clingman said.

Some have been with the program for quite a while and want to go deeper into theater training than one hour a week. And other kids, newer to the program, are eager for the chance to show what they can do, but have a harder time getting parts when auditioning against those with a more experience, she said.

So this fall, along with The Theatre Project officially getting its nonprofit status, its youth program will offer two levels of theater training, each with its own performances.

Stage Level 1 will be a continuation of the current program. All kids age 5–18 who audition or register for a production will be included.

The rehearsal period for each production (there are three or four per school year) will be six to eight weeks long, with once-a-week rehearsals on Tuesday evenings. Cost to participate will be $50 per person per production and include costume, book and so on.

Stage Level 2 will take things up a notch with more difficult productions with longer scripts. It is open to kids ages 5–18, however not all who audition will be cast in a production.

During the six- to eight-week rehearsal period, the rehearsals will be held for two hours on Saturdays. Kids at this level also will be involved in the Level 1 production as chorus members and attend Tuesday rehearsals. Cost to participate will be $150 (plus $25 for participating in the Level 1 production).

In addition, the youth program plans to have several stage intensive workshops focused on the theater disciplines of acting, dancing and singing and will be open to kid in both levels.

"We really want this to be a real training for performers," Schmidt-Clingman said.

By adding Level 2 and the workshops, the program will be able to offer more opportunities to more kids who are better suited to where they are as performers and where they aspire to go, she said.

The rehearsal periods also are designed with the idea that kids and families do a variety of activities, so they can select the productions they want to be involved with and skip those that don't fit their schedule, she said.

First on the performance schedule for this fall for Level 1 is "Willy Wonka KIDS" and for Level 2 it's "Fiddler on the Roof Jr." Go to theatreprojectgj.com for registration information and August audition dates.

Also scheduled for this fall is an opportunity for adult actors with "Eldorado," an original play about the life and death of Edgar Allan Poe written by Shawn Clingman, who taught acting and directed productions at Grand Junction High School for a number of years, and also is Schmidt-Clingman's husband.

"Eldorado" will be on stage in October for Halloween and unlike the productions in the youth program, "it's dark and scary and bloody ... it's Poe," Schmidt-Clingman said.

And finishing off the year, The Theatre Project plans to put on the musical "Annie," with a cast of both adults and children, similar to that of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"It's just a fun show," Schmidt-Clingman said of the Shakespeare play.

It's a comedy, and lighter than some of Shakespeare's other work.

"It's something you can bring the family to," she said.

For information on The Theatre Project and its youth and adult programs, go to theatreprojectgj.com.

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