When the spring YouTheatre program comes to an end this week, the 24 young actors involved in the workshops will present the musical "Dear Edwina Jr." at the Egyptian Theatre.
The production, directed by Zach Zumbrunnen, is based on the book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler, with music by Zina Goldrich.
Jamie Wilcox, director of the YouTheatre program, said she chose "Dear Edwina Jr." because of its quality.
"There are a lot of musicals out there for children to perform, but finding good scripts and stories is difficult for this age group," Wilcox told The Park Record. "I chose this production also because it's not just about making the kids play old people. This production has them performing in an appropriate age range."
Wilcox also likes how the characters are portrayed.
"I like Edwina's spunk," she said. "She dreams of becoming an advice columnist, and in a way she already is, because in her small town of Paw Paw, Michigan, the kids write her letters and she answers them."
Edwina's big hang up is that she has talented siblings that get a lot of recognition.
"Her older sister Myra is a pianist and wins all these awards," Wilcox said. "Her brother is an award-winning drummer and her other sister is a math wiz, who is off at competition."
So, to get some praise for her advice-giving talents, Edwina joins an advice competition.
"In the story, one of the big-named celebrities has dropped out, so organizers are trying to fill the vacancy with local talent," Wilcox said. "So, Edwina is trying to prove herself and get her moment."
Although the storyline centers around Edwina, the production gives everyone in the cast a chance to "shine in the spotlight," Wilcox said.
"It's fun bringing this to the stage, because we have letter readers up in a tree house and every letter Edwina answers is a big musical number," she explained.
Audiences will relate to the story because most people know about advice columnists such as Dear Abby or Miss Manners, Wilcox said.
"The great thing about this musical is that it recognizes that children have issues they need to work through as well," she said. "The kids ask real questions and address real issues, and the responses are fun and done to some great musical numbers, but also have some great information."
For example, there are questions about how to handle annoying little brothers and how to be polite when eating at a friend's house, even though the food isn't very good.
"There is even a little boy names Scott who is in love with Edwina, even though she doesn't know, and asks her how he should handle that situation," Wilcox laughed.
Wilcox also thinks the production is good reinforcement for older kids to watch kids their ages or younger get up there and perform.
"Also, I think parents need reminders as well about how to behave in public and what to teach our kids, when they ask us these types of questions," Wilcox said.
When selecting scripts for YouTheatre productions, Wilcox tries to appeal to a wide audience.
"We do this because when parents bring their teeny-tiny kids, we want to present something that they'll sit through and enjoy," she said. "We also want the production to speak to everyone up to grandparents. "
The cast and crew have been rehearsing since the first week of February and typically put in seven hours a week, and wouldn't have done so well if it weren't for the director, Wilcox said.
"We were very fortunate to have Zach direct this," she said. "He's a former drama teacher for Treasure Mountain Junior High, who is now teaching history at the Park City School District Learning Center."
Zumbrunnen is also an actor and just did a run of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at the Hale Center Theatre.
"He was at the YouTheatre program at the University of Utah, and I've worked with him there previously," Wilcox said. "When I found out he was up here in Park City, I told him that he needed to direct a show for me. He knows how to relate to the kids, but also knows what he's talking about."
Wilcox is happy with how the YouTheatre program has developed since its inception in 1997.
"I like the fact that the kids learn discipline and learn how theatre is run," she said. "They learn to respect the art and each other.
"I also think this is an important program for Park City, because it reinforces so many good principles and gives back to the community, which is a really good place to live," Wilcox said. "I've been here for almost a year and a half and seen how things come together, and how the kids and parents are so happy to be part of it."
The Egyptian Theatre's YouTheatre program will present the musical, "Dear Edwina Jr." at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11. Curtain for Friday and Saturday night is 7 p.m. Saturday will also feature a matinee at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $14 for adults and $9 for children ages 17 and younger. For more information, visit www.parkcityshows.com .