Youtheatre: Spawning Broadway stars
April 30, 2010
What do three cast members of "A Little Night Music," "Hair" and "American Idiot" on the Great White Way have in common?
They all honed their acting chops on stage at the Egyptian Theatre.
Ramona Mallory, Natalie Bradshaw and Sean Wing are among the successful Broadway actors who got their start in the Egyptian’s Youtheatre program.
"We’re so proud of the local talent that we’ve groomed through the Youtheatre program through the years," says theatre manager Randy Barton.
Now the program is moving in a new direction, thanks to a partnership with the University of Utah Youth Theatre program, Youth Theatre at the U.
When the Egyptian Theatre’s education director, Jane Talley, resigned in February, the board of trustees issued a call for proposals.
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Board members Maura Robbins and Pam Carroll interviewed applicants and selected Penny Caywood, artistic director of Youth Theatre at the U, to spearhead a merger of sorts.
"We were really impressed with everything from her business sense to the way she runs things," Robbins says. "It’s an established program with a great reputation, so when she applied, we jumped at the chance."
Caywood actually directed Youtheatre at the Egyptian from 2002-2003, so she is familiar with its programs. She has been involved with Youth Theatre at the U since 2000 and took over the position of artistic director in 2006.
The new partnership will allow Youtheatre to maintain its local programming while also providing new opportunities for collaborative activities.
Caywood will make curricular and artistic decisions and plans to hire a satellite coordinator who will help with on-site operations.
She says the local program will continue to offer after-school classes, summer camps and biannual productions for ages 5 to 18. "The goal is to pump up all of those programs so that the enrollment numbers will grow," she adds.
Faculty and staff members from both the University and the Egyptian will be involved in teaching. "Hopefully we’ll be able to offer more stability and I think we’ll really be able to ramp up the quality of instruction," Caywood says.
One difference is that the youth productions in Park City may not be as closely tied to the after-school classes as they have been in the past. Caywood would like to move in the direction of offering open auditions to all students who want to participate.
Local youth will be encouraged to participate in Youth Theatre at the U’s productions at Kingsbury Hall and the Babcock Theatre as well. Caywood plans to hold auditions at the Egyptian Theatre and help parents coordinate carpooling from Park City. "I’d love to have the students involved in our productions down here," she says.
"This will open up opportunities for U kids to come perform in Park City as well as for Park City kids to perform in Salt Lake City," says Barton. "We really feel positive about it."
Youtheatre (under the direction of house manager Amber Hansen) is presenting "Annie Jr." next weekend, and Caywood plans to use the opportunity to meet students and their families. "I really want to get to know the parents and the kids up there so I can see what the need is," she says.
The first action for the new partnership will be offering three two-week summer camps in Park City starting June 21. On the final day of the camps, the kids will perform their showcase pieces at Kingsbury Hall with students from the Salt Lake City camps.
Barton says the long-term goal is for the Egyptian Theatre to become a destination summer camp for kids from across the country. More immediate goals include boosting Youtheatre’s summer programs and securing a presence in all local schools, including charter, private and eastern county schools.
For more information about Youth Theatre at the U, visit http://www.youththeatre.utah.edu . For details about upcoming programs in Park City, visit http://www.egyptiantheatrecompany.org/youtheatre_info.html.