By: Meghan Riordan
The Summer Youth Program started in 2006 with a small scale production of "Beauty & the Beast." I remember sitting around after the set strike for "Chicago" when Karl Heidemann mentioned that he wanted to start a summer theatre program for the kids of the community. However, during summer he is too busy with the theater showing movies seven days a week and the Super Scoop open daily, too. He just didn't have the time to do it himself.
He casually mentioned his show idea and inquired if anyone knew of anyone who wanted to direct such a thing. I immediately perked up. I had always been interested in directing and it seemed like a wonderful way to start. I had a light work schedule at the time, so it seemed like a good fit. I enlisted the help of theatre veteran Heather Heidemann Nordenbrock as music director and set plans in motion.
Auditions can be a scary process, but it proves who's actually serious about being in a show. We had a good group of young people sign up to be a part of the play. I absolutely loved directing this production. The kids were so excited. They took direction well and their enthusiasm was contagious. They all handled the responsibility and truly made me proud. It was such a wonderful experience I automatically signed up to direct the 2007 show, and chose to do "Cinderella" as our second Summer Youth Program play.
I felt truly honored to be able to help launch the Summer Youth Theatre Program. Theatre has so many benefits for the kids. It helps build self-esteem, and teaches responsibility and team-building. Theatre leaves our young participants with a sense of pride and personal accomplishment that I find hard to match.
I hope the program is around for many years to come!