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Teens get to act their age

Who knows? Maybe a future Hollywood heartthrob will be coming to a theatre near you. Live theatre that is. All young actors have to start somewhere - and need a positive atmosphere to learn and perfect their craft.

Who knows? Maybe a future Hollywood heartthrob will be coming to a theatre near you. Live theatre that is.

All young actors have to start somewhere - and need a positive atmosphere to learn and perfect their craft. Local filmmaker and thespian Adriane Polo is hoping to create that atmosphere, and has formed the Squamish Youth Theatre group along with a crew of local actors and directors. The organization was born as an extension of the popular Kidsfest, which was geared more towards younger children and fairytales.

"We kind of missed out on the teenagers and wanted to get them more involved," said Polo. "Now they have a chance to develop plays with teenaged themes and ideas."

The purpose of the group is to foster and develop young talent in the performing arts by giving young actors an opportunity to work with seasoned actors on stage.

"It's all about working with young local talent and watching them grow. Kids are great to work with - they're so pure, there's no pretense. It's all about having fun," said Polo.

The cast and crew of each short play has one month of six one-hour rehearsals to perfect the script and refine their skills.

"It's pretty challenging," said director Michelle Heighes. "Especially with new kids that have never acted before. On show nights they can get a little star-struck but they pull it off every time."

There are definitely butterflies floating around on opening night, as friends and family of the young actors will be coming from out of town to see their future family stars in action.

"I think they really like getting up on stage and performing in front of family and friends," said Heighes.

For the young actors, the theatre group acts as a playground for developing their acting skills as well as social skills.

"It's a great way to build self-esteem and confidence," said Polo. "Because they get to perform as somebody else, another character. This way you can experience acting as an artist and it builds your emotional character. Everybody gets to work with everybody else and learn from all the different people involved. It's a learning process for these kids and it gives them a chance to really learn acting from seasoned actors."

Tristan Finck, 13, who plays Big Mouth in The Adventures of Captain Potato, one of five plays the troupe presents next week, enjoys the whole experience of acting.

"I love acting and I think it's a great thing to be in if you're my age. It's an awesome way to learn about acting skills. In acting, every time you do it you get a bit better so it's great practice."

With a cast of 50 youth and adults - directors Polo, Michelle Heighes, Dan Jarvis, Lauri Pavon Solis and Sarah Booth have undertaken some ambitious projects in five different plays. Each play is about 15-30 minutes in length.

"The short plays aren't such a huge commitment. We can concentrate on having fun and all of the roles can be evened out," said Polo. "It becomes more of an ensemble effort and it teaches them to work together as a team."

The inaugural production of Squamish Youth Theatre will take place on March 25-27 at 8 p.m. at the Eagle Eye Theatre, where the audience will be treated to five different short performances.

In The Mystery of the Missing Ham, a dinner ham mysteriously disappears and the case must be solved by Amanda Anderson, Samantha Campbell and Robert Campbell before a host of dinner guests arrives.

The Dream Rocks - a story about trolls, fairies and stolen dreams is an original play written by Kelly Ann Smee. The play features Louisa and Claire Jardine-Ourom, Marni Jarvis and Emma Pederson.

In a hilarious take on the adventures of the world's first vegetable crime fighter, Skai Stevenson takes the title role in The Adventures of Captain Potato. With his trusted sidekick Spud (played by Jaimie McCloy), and Big Mouth (played by Tristan Finck), the hilarious play will have even the most jaded audience members laughing.

The Witching Hour is about five friends (Leanne Peek, Nadine Sykora, Dana Babcock, Teira Andreeff and Paige Sotham), who stick together no matter what except when Madame Loetrange (Christa Babcock) shows up.

And finally, in The Wolf Tale Blues, a singing wolf (Tyler Laskovic) pursues his would-be meals which include three pigs - Jack (Jessica Schnieder) and her Ma (Evelyn Dawson), Red (Stephanie Sykora) and Grandma (Kathleen Forbes).

"It's been a lot of work for everyone but it's been very fun too," said Polo. "It's very rewarding for them to hear the applause at the end of a show - the smiles on their faces are amazing."

Tickets can be purchased for $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors at Highland Video and Mostly Books.

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