Young actors group brings ‘Wizard of Oz’ to East County

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The Young Actors Theatre (YAT) in East County is a positive atmosphere for children between the ages of 8 and 18, encouraging them to be creative by participating in the arts in such areas as dancing, singing, acting, stage management, sound booth, costumes and scenery.

The Young Actors Theatre (YAT) in East County is a positive atmosphere for children between the ages of 8 and 18, encouraging them to be creative by participating in the arts in such areas as dancing, singing, acting, stage management, sound booth, costumes and scenery.

YAT received a Gold Award for Best Live Theatre in 2012. These children are trained from an early age, and this training stays with them their entire life. They learn public speaking, which boosts their self-esteem. It will not only affect their lives but their children’s lives and the family tree will keep growing.

Their next production will be the classic “Wizard of Oz,” which is slated to open on March 8. This version of the “Wizard of Oz” story line does not exactly coordinate with the film version starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. This stage version, which all ages can enjoy, will feature a younger cast with more singing and dancing.
YAT produces five shows a year. It is maintained by volunteers. The parents of the performing children are deeply involved in the production process including scenery, stage management and costumes. Volunteers are what keep YAT working for the children and the community.

When YAT prepares to audition cast members for a new play, they distribute flyers to all of the area schools seeking new talent. After auditions, even if the children do not get actual speaking parts in the play, they are still utilized in the production of the play by working back stage.

The training these children receive is later applied in front of a live audience. These children will acquire the skills they can eventually use to teach what they have learned to others, either as a salaried position or on a volunteer basis in the future.

YAT is dedicated to providing professional level theatrical training to children of all ages and abilities. It was founded by Jean Isaac as an after-school program. YAT has expanded its vision to include seven major musical productions, two tour groups and a holiday recital annually. Over the years YAT has produced more than 50 productions and has trained hundreds of students. Their philosophy is that students deserve a chance to be on stage. Many of the students have gone on to receive college degrees and are acting professionally in theater. “It is a constant source of pride when students come home from college and tell me how much of a difference YAT has made in their life,” said Executive Director Jean Isaac.

Playing the star role of Dorothy is La Mesa resident Bella Snyder. Assistant chorographer for the play Katie Drysdale has been involved with YAT for 11 years. Now at the age of 17, she has taken her education and knowledge about dance and sparked the children she is teaching in this play. “I love watching history repeat itself,” Drysdale said. Beatrice Corral, musical director of the play, has been with YAT for a year. “I get personal enrichment from working with these young actors,” Corral concurred.

Performances are scheduled March 8 through 17 and will be held at the Encore Theatre, 9620 Campo Road, Spring Valley.

For information, phone (619) 670-1627 or visit www.yatsandiego.org.

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