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Greasepaint Offers Kids a Stage by Alanna Powers
Imagine a kids' musical production complete with a full set, a live band, a director, choreographer, musical director and 40 kid actors onstage. You could believe that a program this special usually costs a lot of money for the participants, but at Greasepaint Youtheatre, it costs them nothing.
Greasepaint Youtheatre is located in Scottsdale and holds 200 audience members. It gives kids of all ages the opportunity to gain knowledge in a professional setting, not to mention make new friends and feel welcomed in an after-school activity. The only things these kids have to do are audition, and then convince their parents to help out with the production.
"It's a collaboration of me and all the parents in the production," said Maureen Dias, artistic director of the Greasepaint Youtheatre.
She said that at the beginning of each new musical rehearsal, the parents meet and decide what aspect of the show they want to help with.
"It really is a nice little community that comes together," she said.
Dias said that parents must commit to 15 hours of volunteer work for the show their child is in. Usually, the work consists of execution of the ideas of the designers. For example, they have a set designer and a costume designer, but the parents are the ones who put the plans into action by creating costumes and sets. Dias said tasks are broken down so that every parent has help.
Elizabeth Karlsson, 7, has been in three plays at Greasepaint and said she has loved every experience.
"My favorite part of the shows is having all my friends come watch me and making new friends in rehearsals," she said.
Elizabeth also takes dance classes but was inspired to act by movies and says plays are her favorite thing to do. She was the snake charmer's daughter in their most recent musical, Disney's Aladdin, Jr., and her dad, Sven Karlsson, helped build the set.
"I love how everyone is just so nice," said 12-year-old Liz Grannis, Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, Jr.
She said her experience with Greasepaint has been the best out of many other groups that she has participated in.
"We had rehearsals almost every night, so when the shows started and we only saw each other on the weekends, we were so excited for the nights of performances because we missed each other during the week," she said.
This was Liz's third show with Greasepaint and her biggest role. The participants are between the ages of 7-19 and have different shows to compliment the different age groups. Disney's Aladdin, Jr. was tailored to kids aged 7-12, but their next musical, Les Miserables, is only for ages 12-19.
The theatre usually has about four productions per year and also offers camps and workshops . All audition dates and times are posted on the website, Greasepaint.org.