UPPER SANDUSKY - Back in April, 31 children started spending their Saturday mornings at Star Theatre in Upper Sandusky for the annual Star Kids workshop. This week, they have been using what they have learned to produce two stage plays, with guidance from workshop director Lori Lavery.
Star Kids are to present their showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Children in grades 1-3 are to perform "The Gingerbread Girl," a comedy that picks up after the traditional Gingerbread Man story ends. A shortened version of "The Wizard of Oz" is to be dramatized by participants in grades 4-6. Performed in three acts, the entire showcase is to last about 90 minutes.
"The older group is mentoring our younger students this year. We have 10 students in first grade. The older group is also doing much of their own staging of their play and some choreography for a musical number in the first act," Lavery said.
This is the last Star Kids show for Adriane Weininger and Audrey Donaugh, who are classmates at Union Middle School in Upper Sandusky. The girls said they would advise youth with an interest in theater to sign up because they can have fun while they learn many skills from the workshops.
"How to act, how to sing and dance," Donaugh said.
"How to audition correctly," Weininger added.
Both have acted in numerous Star Players productions. Weininger has been a cast member of "Gypsy," "Scrooge," "Babes in Toyland," "Seussical," "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "A Christmas Story." Donaugh has appeared in "Scrooge," "The King and I," "Seussical" and "The Wizard of Oz."
"I loved 'The King and I' because I was one of the twins," Donaugh said.
Weininger also has a younger sister participating in the workshop.
A junior high set crew member from Lavery's first year as director now has a son participating.
Now a resident of Powell, Lavery is an Upper Sandusky native who also is a product of the program. She and her son spend the week at her parents' home in Upper Sandusky during the final week of Star Kids.
"I started doing this in '96, but I've missed a couple years here and there. I was a Star Kid from 1985 to 1990. Now, my son is a Star Kid this year. ... He's been up here since he was 2 months old," Lavery said.
The director said she initially tried an intensive, two-week format for the workshop, but the five Saturday sessions before the final week give participants more time to learn their lines and music before the performance.
"It gives me a chance to get their costumes and T-shirts, too," Lavery said.
Lavery usually obtains most of the props and costumes from the Star Players collection, but she also lets parents know what items she still needs. The production usually becomes a team effort as parents work with their children at home, transport them to practices, provide snacks and sometimes help with publicity, stitching costumes and other tasks.
"The parents are really great. ... I have a mom that's coming to paint the set for us," Lavery said.
Showcase tickets are $4. They can be reserved by calling (419) 294-1411. Remaining tickets will be available at the door. The theater is at 121 W. Wyandot Ave., Upper Sandusky.