GECA performance slated for weekend

Published 12:10 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
Organizers with the Greater Escambia Council for the Arts (GECA) have been giving local children a crash course in what it takes to make it in theater.
For the past two weeks, acting hopefuls have been diligently working to put on GECA's first-ever Youth and Children's Theater production. They will perform "You Can't Take it With You."
GECA membership chairman Anne Sherrill said preparations for this weekend's play are going smoothly.
"It seems to have been going very well for the amount of practice time they've had," she said. "It will be interesting. We've even had two student directors that are directing."
Sherrill said students have not only been on stage acting, but also in the classroom learning the essentials needed to be successful in theatre. In the classrooms, students have received a first-hand knowledge of set construction, costumes, blocking and stage movement, stage makeup and hair, creating a character and using their voice as an instrument. The students have also had choreography class and learned about the history of theatre. This week, they will be taught about sound reinforcement techniques, stage lighting and special effects.
The students involved in the program actually built the ticket booth that will be used the nights of the production.
Sherrill said children involved in the Youth and Children's Theatre paid a fee to be a part of the program. She said organizers decided to begin the program to get more participation from younger generations. Auditions were held in early September and actors were assigned parts and given approximately four weeks to learn their lines.
"We just thought this was a really good way to get children involved that have not been involved before," Sherrill said. "We also knew that we would be able to get them a speaking role. This was a just a way to get children involved that wouldn't otherwise. It's more of a chance to work one-on-one with them."
"You Can't Take it With You" was first produced in 1938 and won two Academy Awards including Best Picture. It also received five other nominations. It is about a large free-spirited family without visible means of support who meet a mean-spirited tycoon intending to take over their neighborhood. A romance flares up between the family's daughter and the tycoon's son, which proves to be a recipe for comedy.
"It's a really good play," Sherrill said.
Sherrill said the class has been broken into two casts, a blue cast and a red cast. While one cast is on stage practicing, the other is in classroom instruction.
"During this weekend's productions, one cast will perform, while the other handles lights, sounds, and stage crew duties," Sherrill said. "They will then reverse duties for the next production."
The blue cast will perform the play at Ernest Ward Middle School Friday afternoon and the red cast will open the show to the public at 7 p.m. Friday night. The blue cast will then perform at 7 p.m. Saturday night and the red cast at 2 p.m. Sunday. All performances will be held at Ernest Ward Middle School.
Students from Atmore, Brewton, Walnut Hill, Fla. and Century, Fla. make up the cast and crew for the production. They range in age from 8 to 17 years old.
Ellen Johnson, 15, of Atmore will be directing the blue cast and Kate Sherrill, 16, of Walnut Hill, Fla. will be directing the red cast.
"I think it's really opportune," Kate Sherrill said. "Most people wouldn't be able to do this, especially 15 and 16 years old. I'm really enjoying it. We have a lot of talented people."
All tickets are $8 and are available from any cast member or at the door. Season passes are still available. Family passes are $45, individual passes are $25 and student passes are $15 and can be purchased at the door or by contacting Anne Sherrill at 327-4250 or
Season passes are good for admission to "You Can't Take It With You", "Miracle on 34th Street", a radio drama to be recorded in early December and "If these Walls Could Talk".
See photo essay on page 13A.

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