We had the pleasure of listening to some our talented youth a few weekends ago at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre’s Fine Arts Center during the annual meeting. We also had the pleasure of working with two of the young entertainers in past performances when each was much younger. They are Mylana Lunde and Jackson Uttech.
Mylana Lunde was part of the children ensemble in the 2013 production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” while Beth was a producer and R Dub played Potiphar in the show. One of the photo’s above is R Dub and Mylana at the afterglow following final strike. Mylana has gone on to write her own music and perform in several musicals at both the Beaver Dam High School and the BDACT stage.
Mylana does come by the entertaining bug naturally, her mom Kristie has been an instrumental part of BDACT as board member, house manager and many other vital duties. Mylana’s sister Mariah Lord and uncle Joe Lord have been in many musicals, dramas and comedies as well.
We first met Jackson Uttech during the production of “Town Hall Tonight” in 2016. “Town Hall Tonight” was written by theater critic and Beaver Dam native Harlowe Hoyt in 1955 to honor the bygone days of traveling minstrels and noted performers like Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass and the von Trapp family singers who traveled from town to town in the late 1800s and early 1900s to entertain locals at their town halls.
Jackson played young Harlowe Hoyt as Harlowe the writer chronicled significant entertainers and events of the day where R Dub acted and Beth assisted with the multitude of period piece props. I remember Jackson’s sheer joy during the rehearsal process and the energy and enthusiasm that he brought to the character.
R Dub had one small scene with the young Harlowe Hoyt. I played Wm Coxshall, town butcher who served as the gallows master after the trial of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators for their parts in the execution of President Lincoln. My character described the trail and his part in the hanging at the gallows where they all met their maker on July 7, 1865. Wilkes died in a shoot out with law enforcement on April 26, 1865. Jackson’s part in this scene was his most simple. He sat by my side as I delivered the somber monologue.
We hoped that he would keep that enthusiasm and joy for the craft all of his life. It was a joy to watch and we are glad he has continued in the arts. When attending a local show with youth, I always look for his name and other names of youth that we’ve met along the way at BDACT.
BDACT continues to support and encourage youth outreach and education in the arts. They have ongoing programs like One Voice which performs this Sunday March 5th at 2:00 pm. Tickets on sale now at https://bdact.org/one-voice-bdact-childrens-chorus-concert-march/.
Other youth opportunities include Class Act a series of acting classes for the youth led by Judy Pearce and Christina Frake. Summer Tell-A-Tale productions for both grade school and middle school children, plus the summer high school musical. BDACT emphasizes the Area in their name. Children from all over the area are invited, welcome and participate in these classes and shows.
What are we missing? Young adults. BDACT recently hosted WACTfest. The Wisconsin Association of Community Theatre’s One Act Play competition. We needed many volunteers, and we got them. As Beth and I looked around the room at the volunteers we realized that most were over 60 years old. We need young adults to carry on.
BDACT recently held a meeting for Directors and Producers to review how proposals for future shows would be handled. Looking around the room, all were over 30, many over 60. We need young adults to carry on.
We are casting 30 and 40 year olds in roles that should go to 20s and late teens. We need young people to carry on.
The youth programs are popular and successful, but we are developing our youth for other theatre groups, not many are staying or coming home. We need young people to carry on.
Sensing a theme? Good, let’s spread the words and the theme.