A children's theater company in Cleveland's Collinwood area is getting a standing ovation on its 20th anniversary for helping local kids become leaders, singing and dancing all the way!
What's unique about UpStage Players, there's no charge to be a member, the staff is all volunteer, and parents pitch in on everything from fundraising to making costumes!
"We do real Broadway plays, all the bells and whistles, we pay for the rights, build the scenery, and the kids come back, the alumni, to help do this," said Bernadette Walsh, Executive Director of UpStage Players. "We don't cut anybody, everybody gets a part at UpStage, and over the past 20 years we've served about 3000 kids," said Walsh.
"It's a very diverse group, and they come together and they just find a place where it's safe, they can take a risk, where they can do their thing, express themselves, and it's OK to be whoever you want to be at UpStage Players," said Carrie Walsh-Hilf, Artistic Director. "They're excited just to be here, they don't want to go home," said Walsh-Hilf.
"This is my fifth year with UpStage and I've enjoyed it every year, you meet new people every year, you make friends and they come back, basically it's a big happy family but you can be yourself here," said Corbin Gray, UpStage member. "I just really like the choreography because I'm really into acting and dancing at the same time," said Ava Longstreet, UpStage member.
"I started at UpStage when I was a middle schooler and I've been part of Upstage ever since," said Sarah Bloom Anderson, UpStage alumni.
Anderson is now an environmental attorney, and credits the troupe for her success.
"It was because I was instilled with confidence and self worth, to be able to take whatever opportunities I had, and make them stretch to the limits and that's what Upstage does every year," said Anderson.
The kids also do community service, like visiting nursing homes, raking leaves, and cleaning up Euclid Beach.
UpStage alumni include lawyers, dentists, actors and teachers.
This year's musical, "Godspell Junior" runs March 21 - 23, 2014.
Tickets are on sale now.
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