There are many times that we wish to be young again. We search for the fountain of youth and spend hundreds of dollars on Botox. And I for one wish I was younger. I’m not saying I want to look younger because I think ya girl has been looking great. But you know sometimes things change and I’m very jealous of a specific group of young people.
The Seminole Theatre started a program for young kids and I for one am jealous! Growing up in Homestead there wasn’t much of an outlet for kids who liked acting or anything artistic really. But now we have a community theatre doing something about that. And what is the first show these kids will be producing? Lion King! I was singing Hakuna Matata way before some of them were even born! But before I begin the executive director of the Seminole Theatre, Mickey McGuire is going to drop some knowledge (Hamilton reference) on this new program!
Mickey McGuire, Executive Director: The Seminole Theatre Junior Players is a group that is set up specifically to make young actors the star of the show. The JR Players will pick well-known shows that are usually intended to be performed by adults and make them accessible for young performers to play all the parts, and then professionally produce the show on the Seminole Theatre main stage.
The Jr Players is a group with two primary mission points. First, to present shows of excellence starring young actors. Second, to provide a conservatory where the young actors can learn, practice and refine their crafts. To that end, the JR Players productions are open to students of all levels. Even young actors with no prior experience will be welcomed in and a part is found for everyone. The goal of the director and staff is to push each actor to their personal best while maintaining the high integrity of the production.
The idea of launching the Jr Players actually came around quite organically. Two years ago, we launched both the Seminole Theatre Players (Isabel: that’s what I am!) and the Camp Seminole Conservatory. We had many young people audition for the STP production of Hairspray, but it was not geared toward having young actors and we could not cast them. Similarly, we had many talented young people in our Camp Seminole conservatory program, but it was not set up to present a full musical production. It felt like there was something in between these two programs that we wanted to launch.
Since then, we have wanted and planned to launch the Jr Players, but have been waiting for the right time with both interest, funding and staff. We have finally found the right marriage this year and with the staff of Lion King, so we’re so thrilled to get this started!
The hope is that the Jr Players will be able to produce 2 or more productions annually, and will become the premiere training ground of young actors in South Miami Dade. Since we also have the Seminole Theatre Players producing performances for adults, plus access to many other arts organizations in the greater Miami area, we can help launch the performance careers of young people who go through the program.
We know that there is such a strain on arts funding in the schools these days, and so we are providing performing arts education and practice in our own setting while making it as affordable as possible. We are reaching out to foundations and individuals to help underwrite tuition costs and provide scholarships so that it can become an inclusive program that can continue running.
And I hope now you can see why I wish I young again! Ah, the fountain of youth never spoke to me until now. How amazing is that? To be on stage goofing off to I can’t just wait to be king is a dream! I was fortunate enough to see the auditions. It was a long process since the turn out was so grand but boy do these kids have talent! Some can dance circles around me! I guess it’s time to break out the old jazz shoes. I got to speak to the people who are going to turn this show into a big success and asked what made them want to join!
Magaly Perez, Director: Children are inspiring to me. They have a different take on things and grown ups can learn so much from them.
Gia Desantino, Choreographer: I’ve always liked teaching, dancing and acting. So an opportunity to put it together along with my obsession with Disney (I think she loves Disney more than me which is a lot) is a match made in heaven!
Kary Gonzalez, Music Director: I wanted to volunteer to get out the house and be apart of something great. I’ve always worked with music and love teaching and thought I could bring what I know to the table! I also love working with kids, they bring excitement!
Lion King Jr. is going to be a great show! I think everyone is going to be surprised at what these kids can do! And who knows maybe I can make my way into their rehearsals and be a tree! A singing tree of course.