By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer
By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer
Jumping into the unknown and trying something new for the first time is never easy.
Youth especially can relate to this concept as grade school, high school and college life are filled with taking risks and coming out of our comfort zone.
Kids and young adults can participate in all kinds of activities that help them to get past their insecurities and become better people.
One of those activities is theater arts.
Some people might see theater as a waste of time since singing, dancing and acting can’t really be used in “real life.”
But maybe there’s more to this lost art than meets the eye.
Debbie Wolgemuth, founder of the Riverside Youth Theater, puts all her energy into productions knowing how the kids who participate can benefit.
The Riverside Youth Theater held vocal auditions for its latest production, “West Side Story,” on April 16.
Wolgemuth, along with dance choreographer Rebecca Sandlyn, scored each audition based on tone, pitch, and rhythm.
Experience is appreciated but not a necessity as long as the performer does well in those three areas.
Being able to audition without a lot of experience opens doors for kids like 12 year old Natalie Moya to experience musical theater.
Moya was inspired by her niece to get into theater when she was seven years old. Now a sixth-grader, she has enjoyed being in plays and musicals ever since.
“It means a lot,” Moya said. “Being able to do this on my free time.”
Auditioning for musicals has also brought Moya closer to her father, who gives her voice lessons and comes to all her performances.
Parents waiting for their children to audition for “West Side Story” are happy to be involved. Theater mom Robin McCain has happily supported her teenage daughter’s interest in performing arts.
“I think (theater) is a good opportunity for them to challenge themselves,” McCain said. “The confidence they gain is huge. And I think poise (and) the ability to present yourself and you need that now for different kinds of situations.”
You can see confidence shine through the kids during the auditions. Some of the youngest performers are the most fearless singers.
Each performer has their own way with dealing with nerves. Moya would encourage newcomers “to relax and sing from your heart.”
“Shake it out before,” said David Fuller, a sophomore in high school. “To get the nerves out. That’s what I do.”
Fuller is one of the many teens who participate in theater for the love of the art.
The children auditioning for “West Side Story” know that theater doesn’t bring instant popularity, but for them it’s all about taking a chance and trying something different. Not all of them will get call backs, but that won’t stop them from trying again.
Wolgemuth and Sandlyn have encouraging parting comments for first timers and shy performers.
Just that little bit of support lets timid individuals walk away with more pride.
The small amount of hope performers get auditioning keeps them coming back for more despite the challenge.
Being in plays and musicals is a test especially to boys, who typically are made fun of for participating in theater.
“I used to call it gay,” Fuller said. “Now I just have fun with it…it’s an outlet.”
At first glance no one would know that some of the little girls have better communication skills than people twice their age or that the college students auditioning have found better friends in their theater family than they have anywhere else.
What people wouldn’t see on the surface is that theater offers these kids a chance to become better people.
Garrett Goodell, one of the older boys auditioning, encourages youth to consider giving theater a try even if they don’t plan on making a career out of it.
“If you know you can do something,” Goodell says, “you might as well do it…there’s no sense in wasting the talent.”