Sikeston's community theater adds youth division

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Sikeston Little Theatre is developing a new program geared to give local children and teens more opportunities to perform on stage.

"Stage 2" is a division of the Little Theatre and will produce children and youth plays, events, talent showcases and workshops throughout the year.

Sikeston Little Theatre president Steve Beydler came up with the idea for the program in the spring, when theater productions were winding down.

"We have 12 months a year, and we're doing four, maybe five, shows a year," Beydler said. "This year we've already done four shows in five months, which meant we had a lot going on for a short period of time."

Beydler admitted he enjoyed the activity taking place at the Little Theatre.

"I'd go down to the theater, and I loved it," Beydler said. "It was really exciting. There would be one show practicing on stage and another group working on something in a different corner of the theater."

At the end of those shows' runs, Beydler said, there was some free space on the Little Theatre's calendar.

"We no longer rent out the building. We just decided we should be using it for other things so we are so busy we can't rent it out," Beydler said.

Board members started discussing the concept.

"We are called a performing arts center," Beydler said. "We can do more than stage shows. We can have events where kids can come in and show their talent, have workshops and train in other areas of performing or the backstage of a show or let them have opportunity to sing on stage."

Beydler said that years ago summer youth workshops were offered by the Little Theatre but eventually stopped.

Historically, the theater puts on one youth production each season.

"A children's or youth show is not enough to keep all of these kids active, and they're our future of our theater," Beydler said.

Local children's interest in the Little Theatre by has remained steady for years, Beydler said.

"It's unfortunate because when we're in need of two kids for a production, 40 kids will show up, and only two can get the role," Beydler said.

The program is not something children will have to join or pay a membership fee, Beydler said. However, if a production is put on for the public, there may be a small charge at the door, he said.

The first event to be held under "Stage 2" will be a youth talent showcase open to all children and youth from third through 12th grades. Any talent will be accepted, and each act will be limited to three minutes.

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