Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 20, 2013

Youth theater group to perform ‘Luann’ in Bristol

By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

BRISTOL — They sang. They danced. They fretted over an enigma.

“Woman is a mystery/with no clues...” rang out the song Tuesday morning in the Bristol Opera House. Onstage, a group of young men was fine-tuning choreography. And, through song, reminding the world that young love can be vexing.

“Woman is a sports car/she won’t yield,” went another lyric. “We’re just bugs/on her windshield.”

Performing the song-and-dance number were several of the participants in Elkhart Civic Theatre’s summer theater camp. They were getting ready for a show.

The youth theater group will perform “Luann: Scenes in a Teen’s Life” this weekend at the opera house. The musical was written by Greg Evans, artist and author of the syndicated comic strip “Luann.” The Bristol performances mark the musical’s regional premiere.

They’ll also show what 30 young people can do on a deadline.

On Tuesday, the “Luann” cast — made up of 12- to 18-year-olds — was on its seventh day of preparation. The plan was to put together a show in two weeks, with the youngsters rehearsing from 8 a.m. to noon daily.

Mary Norwood, theater camp coordinator and “Luann” director, said “Scenes from a Teen’s Life” is a full-length musical, with 16 songs plus reprises. Getting the show ready in two weeks is a challenging and ambitious undertaking, she indicated. Norwood also said that after seven days, the production was in its “cleaning and tightening” stages.

“They’re doing really, really well,” she said of the theater campers.

Cast member McKenna Kaczanowski was also upbeat about the process.

“It’s been really fun,” she said. “It’s working really well. Everyone’s working really hard.”

Kaczanowski, who will be a freshman at Penn High School, said she’s been with the Civic Theatre since she was around 8 or 9.

“My mom’s an actress and she does a lot of stuff here,” she said. “So I wanted to do it, too.”

Sydney Cox plays Luann in the show. She described her character as a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, and trying to get the guy of her dreams to fall in love with her.

“She’s like a normal teenage girl, but she’s very sarcastic, and she’s funny,” said Cox, who will be a sophomore at Goshen High School. She’s enjoying the role.

Cox has been heavily involved with the Civic Theatre. New to the organization is Ben Helmuth, who will be a senior at Northridge High School.

“I’m Brad,” Helmuth said by way of introducing his “Luann” alter ego. “I’m the typical kind of confused teenager who’s kind of looking for love in his 19th summer of his life. I work the afternoon shift at a hot dog stand. I’m just trying to enjoy life and have fun.”

Helmuth said he’s glad he got involved with ECT. He’s also optimistic about “Luann” being ready by opening night.

“I think we’re going to be able to pull this together in two weeks, for sure,” he said.

Prior the “Luann” shows, youngsters in the Civic Theatre’s Storyteller’s Theatre program will be on stage at the Opera House. Through Storyteller’s Theatre, 8- to 11-year-olds can learn theatrical basics including stage direction, projection and performance skills. The program is directed by Annette Kaczanowski.

If you want to go

Tickets are still available for the 3 p.m. Sunday performance of “Luann: Scenes in a Teen’s Life” at Bristol Opera House, 210 E. Vistula St. For tickets, call 574-848-4116 or visit the website elkhartcivictheatre.org.