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Youth theater program returns to Ripley stage

'Peter Pan,' 'Tragedians Anonymous' performances slated

Members of Jackson County Players Starbursts Children’s Theatre donned their costumes for the rehearsal of “Peter Pan,” which will be presented at the Alpine Theater at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Levi Moore and Aaron Brooks (front), Kaesyn Barnett, Aubrey Westfall, Maci Mitchell, Jenna Roberts, Vivien Webb, Arianna Barr and Lilly Brooks work together to run their lines. (Photo Provided)

RIPLEY — Peter Pan, Wendy, Romeo and Ophelia will hit the stage as the Jackson County Player’s children and youth theater programs present “Peter Pan” and “Tragedians Anonymous” at the Alpine Theater in Ripley.

Live performances are back this year and director Doug Torres said the the plays will help children learn valuable skills and equip them with the knowledge to continue in the theatre world.

“I’ll ask the whole group to find a partner and figure out what they’re going to do with the set (and costumes.) They’re all doing different roles” he said.

Thursday was the opening night of “Peter Pan” brought to the Jackson County community by the JCP Starbursts Children’s Theatre. This year, Torres said the children have been more excited and enthusiastic about the play than any other project he’s been apart of.

“Before this year, they weren’t as excited, now they got extra excited,” Torres said. “When they find it interesting and find something they like about the show, they’ll put their attention right there.”

JCP Starbursts put on a show via Zoom during the pandemic and Torres believes the children were glad to return to the stage.

“I think this year, since ‘Peter Pan’ is in person, they have a sense of relief that it’s not over Zoom,” he said.

With this production, Torres worked with the children to teach them about how to project their voices, work together as a team and how to act with one’s voice and body.

“I told them that just because Peter Pan in a boy in the movie doesn’t mean he’s a boy here. Anybody can be anything, that’s the real message of this year’s show,” he said.

The JCP Rising Stars Youth Theater will take on the roles of Shakespeare’s most notable and tragic characters in “Tragedians Anonymous.” In this play, characters such as Romeo, Juliet, Opehelia, Lady Anne and Prospero meet virtually with a therapist to talk about their struggles.

But here’s the catch: The play will be performed in person.

“I was interested in this because the plan was to make this youth theatre thing a filming process, they can see how to film a show and make it a movie,” Torres said. “Things started getting better with the scenes (so we) decided to do it in person.”

The cast and crew had to come up with a way to transform the play from a virtual setup to a stage set. Because there aren’t enough actors to fill all the rolls, puppets will take the place of a couple of the characters.

“It’s entertaining, I can’t stop laughing,” Torres said.

Main Street Ripley and a couple volunteers helped make the productions possible, Torres said.

“Main Street Ripley has been very nice and generous. The players did not get to use the Alpine last year because of COVID, so they said (they would) let us use it for free for a month,” he said.

A few mothers also helped by typing up the programs and providing face shields and other supplies.

For the first time, costumes and sets were brought in from outside the county thanks to Leslie Haynes who helped make it possible. The costumes and sets for “Peter Pan” came from a middle school in Wheeling.

“Leslie Haynes, as usual, has been very helpful with getting the set pieces,” Torres said.

The second and final “Peter Pan” performance will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. and the single performance of “Tragedians Anonymous” will be Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Both performances be at the Alpine Theatre and a monetary donation of any amount is requested for admission.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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