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Openings: Starlight’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

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A fresh approach to the all-time 1967 classic with two new songs and added characters from the original version.  Join the Peanuts Gang for a “day in the life” of perennial block-head Charlie Brown!

Christian Graca, Director

Based on the Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M Schulz

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Clark Gesner;  Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer; Additional Music & Lyrics by Andrew Lippa  By special arrangement with Tams Witmark Music Library

Dates & Times:

7 pm Friday, January 30

2 pm Saturday, January 31

7 pm Saturday, January 31

7 pm Friday, February 6

2 pm Saturday, February 7

7 pm Saturday, February 7

7 pm Friday, February 13

2 pm Saturday, February 14

7 pm Saturday, February 14


1611 W Whispering Wind Dr #160, Phoenix, AZ 85085

(1 block SW of Happy Valley & 16th Ave., W of I-17)

(In Order of Appearance)

Linus: Dylan Rinehart
Charlie Brown: Skyler Washburn
Sally: Lilly LeBlanc
Schroeder: Griffin LeBlanc
Snoopy: Brandan Brown
Lucy: Savoy Graca
Violet: Caitlyn Martinez
Frieda: Chelsea Carll
Peppermint Patty: Quincy Janisse
Marcie: Jesse Pike
Rerun: Will Rippenkroeger
Woodstock: Molly Jimmerson
Little Red Haired Girl: Allison Weston
Lucinda: Hanna Grossenbacher
Hanna Grossenbacher
Caitlyn Martinez
Jesse Pike
Allison Weston
Dancing Blanket: Chelsea Carll
Kite-eating Tree: Hanna Grossenbacher

Director: Christian Graca
Musical Director: Thomas Graca
Choreographer: Nathalie Velasquez

For more information go to

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Review: Theater Works’ “13 the Musical”

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Full Review:


Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Dan Elish, Robert Horn as co-librettist.

Thirteen. It’s a number with many negative connotations. Possibly none more negative than being thirteen years old. Puberty, acne, peer pressure, junior high. Good times only compounded for Evan when his parents get divorced and he is moved from the bright lights of New York City to the Dairy Queens of Appleton, Indiana. Perhaps things can get a little better in “The Lamest Place in the World” if he can make some new cool friends at his new school named after Indiana’s favorite son (Dan Quayle Junior High) and get them to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. But will he lose his new real friends in the process?


All hail Theater Works with their cast and team directed by Johanna Carlisle who opened their run of 13 the Musical with an impressive opening night at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. It looks good with New York iconic signs being switched out with Appleton iconic signs (Scenic Designer M’Liss Tolman), Tamara Treat’s costumes that mesh with the various characters’ personalities, and good choreography by Lynzee 4Man. In those costumes and doing those dance moves is a largely pre-high school cast featuring many of the greatest young talents from all around the valley.

Leading it is Sam Primack who was born to play Evan. He’s thirteen and just had his Bar Mitzvah last May, and he’s a fantastic performer whether at ease with his real friends, straining to impress the cool kids, or grooving to his own jig amongst the frozen bodies of all the other kids as his mind is racing from one fanciful plan to another in All Hail The Brain. Sixteen-year-old Olivia Watters is his new best friend and would-be girlfriend Patrice, giving a beautiful performance both in her singing and in her deeply authentic performance, trying to fight back tears as the years of bullying begin anew with the first day of school, and as she tries to hold out hope with the new boy coming to The Lamest Place in the World. Her powerful parting from Evan in Good Enough is painfully real. Completing the trio of friends is thirteen-year-old Emilio Cress who’s charming as Archie, making the best of his situation and joining Sam Primack in a memorable song-and-dance to No One Says No to a Boy with a Terminal Illness.

Eighth grader Addison Bowman isn’t at all charming, but she is super talented as mean girl Lucy who ruthlessly connives to get to the jock’s tongue before her “best friend” and fellow cheerleader Kendra gets there.Gabby Vatistas delivers a strong, amusing performance as the ditzy Kendra, also shining with a very nice singing voice. Jacob Herrera is her match as the highly entertaining dumb jock who nevertheless is quite skilled at taking notes on subjects of interest. He works well as a team with his four buddies (Christian Bader, Sam Brown, Henry Brown, andCharlie Siegal) who draw some of the biggest laughs and highest notes as they help him woo Kendra and try to help him escape Lucy.

But Lucy won’t go down without a fight, leading a great gossip quartet with Alex Kirby, Jessica Dolyniuk and Jasmine Bassham – Jasmine also working it throughout as the dance captain. The impressive ensemble adds much to the show with their dancing, singing, and acting, in everything from the hip New York kids, the hip rabbis led by the humorous Ethan Shanker, a horrified movie audience, peer pressuring junior high students, and eventually reflective junior high students in their strong finale of A Little More Homework to do.

Performed January 16 – February 1, 2015

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

Opening: TADA!’s “Everything About a Family (Almost)”

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TADA! Youth Theater proudly presents an original family musical performed by kids for kids-

Everything About A Family (Almost)
January 17- February 16, 2015

Originally Conceived and Written by Members of TADA!’s Resident Youth Ensemble: Christina Franklin, Merce Jessor, John Moriarty,  Maya Park, Jennifer Wais, and Casey Wenger-Schulman

Music and Lyrics by: Gary Bagley, Deirdre Broderick, Douglas Cohen, Jim Colleran, Miriam Daly, Scott Evan Davis, Drew Fornarola, Simon Gray, Kirsten A. Guenther, Lindsey Joelle, Phoebe Kreutz, Naomi Lee, Callie LeFevre, Arianna Rose, Kiernan Schmitt, Joy Son, Robby Stamper, Steve Sweeting, and Tom Toce.

Direction and Choreography by:
 Joanna Greer
Musical Direction by: Adam Jones
Set & Lighting Design by: Steve O’Shea
Costumes Design by: Megan Turek
Production Stage Manager: Samantha Jacob

TADA! Theater

Everything About a Family (Almost)
An original family musical performed by kids for kids!

TADA! Theater
15 West 28th Street 2nd floor NYC, 10001

January 17- February 16, 2015 
Opening night on Saturday January 17 at 7pm
Saturdays & Sundays, 2 & 4pm.

Weekday Performances
Monday, January 19 at 12pm & 2pm
Wednesday, February 4 at 10am & 12pm
Friday, February 13 at 7pm
Monday, February 16 at 12pm & 2pm

TADA! will kick off the 30th Season with a favorite from the “Everything About” series, Everything About a Family (Almost). In this musical revue, audiences will experience a family reunion like no other- where kids discover how quirky, fun, endearing and irreplaceable- family can be! Perfect for the entire family- kids as young as 3 will love this hour-long show which features 15 musical numbers and 26 actors ranging in age from 8 – 17.

TADA! Youth Theater is an ideal introduction for kids to the live theater, with delightful content, age-appropriate themes, an easily palatable running time and affordable prices. One family of four could see this production for less than the cost of one Broadway ticket.

Following the 4pm shows on January 24 and February 8, join cast members and TADA! Teaching Artists on stage for a 45 min workshop based on themes of the show. ADDITIONAL COST: $10 per participant

Regular Tickets: $15 for kids and $25 for adults
Limited Ticket available for each performance: $10 kids and $20 (not available at the door)
Non-profit and community groups of 10+: $8 kids and $10 per adult
Birthday party packages are available.

Tickets are available at or by calling the box office at 212-252-1619 x5. Advanced purchase is recommended.

Running Time: 1 hour

Listings Information:
Who: TADA! Youth Theater
What: Everything About a Family (Almost) 
Where: 15 West 28th Street 2nd floor
When: January 17-February 16 Saturdays, 2 & 4pm.
How:, or call 212-252-1619 x5

Sophia Abehal, 11, Queens
Nisha Borrelli, 9, Manhattan
Ceanna Bryant, 16, Manhattan
Sofia Bryant, 14, Manhattan
Omarion Burke, 10, Bronx
Kristin Callahan, 16 Manhattan
Victoria Cotton, 17, Manhattan
Ashley Figueroa, 13, Manhattan
Josiah Fluker-McInnis, 14, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Fuentes, 13, Brooklyn
Zane Gerson, 9, Queens
Jaden Gonzalez, 11, Bronx
Ari Hawkins, 14, Manhattan
Jada Jackson, 11, Brooklyn
Derek Johnson, 13 Brooklyn
Jonah Levinowitz, 14, Brooklyn
LeAnn Martin, 15, New Jersey
Subiya Mboya, 14 New Jersey
Xavier Means, 14, Brooklyn
Riya Nagpal, 12, New Jersey
Danielle Palmer, 15 Mt. Vernon
Simone Singletary, 16, Brooklyn
Sophie Smith-Brody, 15, Manhattan
Emma Sobel, 10, Manhattan
Vann Strasen, 15, Dutchess County
AJ Walker, 10, New York

Opening: Spotlight Youth Theatre’s “RENT”

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Spotlight Youth Theatre Presents “RENT”
January 16 – February 1, 2015

Mark: Jeremy Yampolsky
Roger: Trey DeGroodt
Mimi: Mariella DeAngelis
Benny: John Batchan
Maureen: Carly Grossman
Joanne: Ali Whitwell
Collins: Michael Schulz
Angel: Alex Acosta
Payton Bioletto
Carly Makani Copp
Marley DeGroodt
Ally Landsdowne
Phoenix Briggs
Brandon Reyes
Eddie Tellez
Maggie Waller

Director: Kenny Grossman
Music Director: Mark 4Man
Choreographer: Lynzee 4Man

NYA Review of MTA’s “The Diary of Anne Frank”

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Full Review:

The Diary of Anne Frank
by Musical Theatre of Anthem


“For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.”

For two years they lived in hiding from the Nazis, careful not to make a sound during the day when employees worked below them. One noise, one cough, one slip could give them all away. And that would mean being taken to the concentration camps, of which they’d already begun hearing about the deaths and the gas used to kill so many of their friends. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and further adapted by Wendy Kesselman, this show is a powerful stage adaptation of the diary kept by Anne Frank – a young teenage girl who in her fear found some solace in her writing, dreamt of being an author who would be useful and remembered after her death, and who, in spite of everything, managed to believe that people were really good at heart.


Musical Theatre of Anthem staged a most powerful production of this show under the direction ofLaura O’Meara with a talent-filled ensemble who make this historical event feel all too real and present from the opening moments of the show. It begins while the audience is still being seated, with their outside helpers Miep Gies (Jessica Kishbaugh) and Mr. Kraler (Andre Akcelik) making multiple trips into the hidden annex as they quietly load in the few supplies the families will need. When the lights go down there’s the sound of the rain outside, and then the Frank family silently walk into what will be their home for the coming years, their sadness and fear palpable as they slowly take stock of their new world and what it means. It’s a world that the performers all stayed in overnight during rehearsals, that they’ll stay in silently during intermission just as they live when the office personnel work below them during the days, and where they won’t leave until the show’s end when they are led out by the Nazis and never return.

Zoe Tanton is an amazing Anne Frank, finding a way to break the tension as Anne did for her family with her infectious humor, optimism, and playful teasing, determined to still live and find laughter, struggling to control her sharp tongue as she grows through her teenage years, exploring romance with Peter, and facing the moments of fear. Her eyes always naturally convey so much whether curled up in happiness, narrowed in anger, or wide with fear. Her monologue when woken by a nightmare of seeing her best friend Hanneli in a concentration camp is devastating. As her mother Edith Frank, Ann Emilie Tjorhom is rivetingly real with a shadow of fear and dread that almost never goes away, her reactions to her husband and her daughters (including Anne preferring her father’s company, and Anne finally being supportive of her), and dealing with the Van Daans are always deeply felt and magnified by her constant dread. You also fear that dread with Ava Tyson as Anne’s older sister Margot, quiet and reserved by nature, and sharing some nice moments with her sister and mother.Nicholas Gearing, the only adult actor in the show, is fantastic as the father, husband, and leader of the group trying to say the right things to keep them all alive. His closing monologue after the war is full of pain, shock, and irretrievable loss.

They share the annex with the Van Daans and Mr. Dussel. Nick McHatton and Emily Spets are great as Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, Nick as a sometimes frustrated father, husband, and neighbor who nails an unspoken but seen sense of guilt when having to sell his wife’s fur coat as well as the embarrassment when he is caught stealing food. Emily is hilarious with her flirting and awkward frankness, as well as touching with her fear of discovery, hurt at losing her coat, and comforting of her distraught husband. Michael Hoover does a nice job as the awkward Peter who slowly thaws to Anne leading to a humorous first date and later an easy friendship. Jeremy Neiss is the newcomer dentist who adds drama as he tells them of the horrors going on outside the annex and some humor as the gruff and sometimes grumpy dentist dealing with the talkative Anne.

The scene when they are discovered is brilliantly and heartbreakingly performed, from the easy and happy enjoyment of each other’s company and the rare treat of strawberries, to their genuine terror as each reacts to the sudden arrival of the soldiers – the shock, the tearful race to follow barked orders as they rush to grab a couple belongings, and the hopelessness as they desperately try to find any comfort in each other amidst the confusion of the moment and the sense of certainty over their fate.

Performed January 8-11, 2015

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

Opening: Susan E. Wagner’s “Little Women”

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Susan E. Wagner High School
Black Box Theater presents…

Little Women: The Musical

Based on the novel by Louis May Alcott

Book by Allan Knee
Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein

Directed by Diane Zerega
Musical Direction by Eric Umhoefer

– Featuring –
Gianna Chuppe and Deidre Hansalik as Jo March
Elanie Andreopoulus
Aissatou Bah
Jordan Bernstein
Gina Marie Berrios
Josie Brennan
Lauren Buttermark
Maryam Dimson
Joseph Gottfried
Laura Grass
Mariah Kanevsky
Rosemarie Manzo
Nicole McMurray
Julia Pignatelli
Juliet Rigau
Gabrielle Rodriguez
Anthony Rubin
Nick Scarlotta
Paul Seblano
Victoria Zaccardo

Tuesday January 13th at 7:00pm (invited dress)
Wednesday January 14th at 3:00pm and 7:00pm
Thursday January 15th at 3:00pm and 7:00pm
Friday January 16th at 3:00pm and 7:00pm
Saturday January 17th at 7:00pm
Sunday January 18th at 2:00pm

For information and online ticket sales go to: or 718 698-4200 x 2841

Fountain Hills Youth Theater – Peter Pan & Wendy Review

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Full Review:


Adaptation, Music and Lyrics by Julie Anna Ayers-Hackmann, story based on J. M. Barrie’s novel “Peter and Wendy.”  

Somewhere there’s a land full of pirates and Indians and fairies and Lost Boys who never grow old. The land is Neverland, an island so small there is hardly any room between one adventure and another. Peter Pan leads his group of Lost Boys through the adventures and the battles against Captain Hook and his pirates. We catch a glimpse of Neverland through the eyes of the three Darling children as they fly from their home in London to join Peter in his latest adventures. This 1995 adaptation by Julie Anna Ayers-Hackmann isn’t the classic you’re likely to be familiar with, but it’s a pretty entertaining musical that offers some new angles on the iconic characters and features such songs as Night Lights, The Doodle Doo, and The Tick Tock Croc. It opens with Jane going to bed with her Uncle Michael’s old teddy bear and asking her mother Wendy for a bedtime story…


Fountain Hills Youth Theater staged this one in their very intimate theatre space that doesn’t allow for flying, but does allow for plenty of creative staging by Director Ross Collins and his group. That includes having adult Wendy (Allison Brown) and her daughter Jane (Cara Richman), after starting off the show with the beginning of the bedtime story, watch in delight from the side of the stage as the bedtime story and reminiscing emerges on center stage.

That’s where we get a charming introduction the Darlings in the form of The Darling Family and a Night Lights lullaby and waltz. The kids eager for adventure are Rebecca Steiner as Wendy, David Woods as John, and Connor Klein as Michael. Katie Male delivers the lovely, heartfelt lullaby as Mrs. Darling and a comical reaction to the possible adoption of all the Lost Boys (later also appearing as a very convincing pirate Starkey) and Nicholas Hambruch is the stuffy Mr. Darling who transforms hilariously into the villainous Captain Hook who vainly craves flattery, is oft-irritated by his bumblingpirates (when really mad, he even rips out one of pirate Savoy Thompson’s yellow braids), and is still getting used to his hook as he keeps on nicking himself with it.

That’s a hook he has courtesy of Peter Pan, in this show unusually played by a real boy with Sebastian Harris-Wylde who does a nice job trying to reunite with his Shadow (Elle Feinstein, who also shines as Tinker Bell). The Pan also does well leading his enthusiastic bunch of Lost Boys as they coax bedtime stories out of a delighted Wendy.Hunter DiGrazia squeezes a lot out of her smaller role as Tiger Lily, leading her athletic Indian Maids in Blood Brothers and having an amusing jealousy bout with Wendy over Peter Pan. While Emily Spetsis a rip as Hook’s sidekick Smee with a nerdy laugh and voice, the duo leading a great crew of ditzy pirates. They all converge in a battle for Neverland that includes everything from Matrix-like combat and debilitating noogies.

Performed September 19 – 28, 2014

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

Opening: Desert Foothills’ “Hairspray”

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Desert Foothills Theater’s “Hairspray”
January 9-18


Lily Castle…..Tracey Turnblad
Hannah Rose…..Penny Pingleton
Emily McAtee….Amber Von Tussel
Spencer Claus….Link Larkin
Mason Reeves….Seaweed J. Crabs
Kiara Adams…..Lil’ Inez
Emily Temple….Nicest Kid in Town
Julia Horner….Nicest Kid in Town
Samantha Isley..Nicest Kid in Town
Hollis Johnson..Nicest Kid in Town
Karson Cook…..Nicest Kid in Town
Cody Seaver…..Nicest Kid in Town
Alex Tuchi……Nicest Kid in Town
Zach Zupke……Nicest Kid in Town
Matthew Harris..Edna Turnblad
Alex Martinez….Corny Collins
Christina Robinson….Prudy Pingelton
Greta Perlmutter…….Female Dancing Ensemble
Maddie Lever………..Female Dancing Ensemble
Celine Sanel………..Female Dancing Ensemble
Tara Prager…………Female Dancing Ensemble
Sarah Link………….Gym Teacher/Prison Matron
Ken Bailes………….Wilbur Turnblad
Kathleen Berger……..Velma Von Tussel
Tyra Young………….Motormouth Maybelle
Anissa Griego……….Dynamite
Mattea Reeves……….Dynamite
Audrey Peevyhouse……Dynamite
Chantel Jackson……..Teen Ensemble
Adia Watson…………Teen Ensemble
Alisha……………..Teen Ensemble
Aaliyah Perry……….Teen Ensemble

Opening: MTA’s “The Diary of Anne Frank”

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Press Release:

The Diary of Anne Frank Presented by Musical Theatre of Anthem

Anthem, Ariz.  November, 22 2014 – Musical Theatre of Anthem (MTA) brings to stage the dramatic play, The Diary of Anne Frank, the gripping new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman.  Newly discovered writings from the diary of Anne Frank, as well as survivor accounts, are interwoven to create a contemporary impassioned story of the lives of people persecuted under Nazi rule.  The Diary of Anne Frank captures the claustrophobic realities of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic – their fear, their hope, their laughter, their grief.  The talented cast of teens and adults, comprised of both ariZoni and NYA award winners and nominees, presents the show January 8-11 in Anthem.  The show is produced by Jackie Hammond and directed by Laura O’Meara.

“What an incredible honor and privilege it is for this amazingly talented cast to portray these real-life characters in what is probably one of the most well-known, yet unknown stories in history,” said O’Meara. “I say well-known because we are all familiar with Anne Frank and her diary, and we are all aware of the turmoil of the Jews during the holocaust. Yet, I say unknown because it is almost impossible to completely fathom what these eight people, living in hiding for over two years, actually went through. It is our hope that MTA’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank will bring you a little closer to that understanding. The lives of this cast will never be the same for being a part of it, and we hope that in some small way, it touches the lives of our audiences as well.”

Performances take place January 8 and 9 at 7:00 p.m., Jan. 10 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m., and Jan. 11 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Musical Theatre of Anthem, 42323 N. Vision Way, Anthem, AZ  85086.  Tickets may be purchased online at  Adult tickets are $19 and Students, Seniors and Children 12 and under are $16.

The Diary of Anne Frank, a play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.i

Photo (L-R): Zoe Tanton (Anne), Ann Emilie Tjorhom, Michael Hoover, Andre Akcelik, Emily Spets, Jeremy Neiss, Ava Tyson, Jessica Kishbaugh.
Photo courtesy of Wade Moran

About MTA

Musical Theatre of Anthem (MTA) is an award-winning, non-profit theater company located in Anthem, Arizona.  The mission of MTA is to develop youth and adults within the field of performing arts while enhancing their intrinsic creativity and brokering their vast talents.  MTA trains and educates youth so that they can become the artists, patrons, and leaders of tomorrow while providing opportunities to adults that empower them and foster their creativity.  MTA’s principles include casting all who audition in select productions, presenting high quality shows that everyone can enjoy, and providing a positive environment where performers can practice teamwork and communication skills while experiencing the pride of accomplishment.  Supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Opening: SDJT’s “Dinosaurs Before Dark” & “Fancy Nancy”

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Press Release:

San Diego Junior Theatre’s Rippledink’s Repertory returns for the fourth year in a row withMagic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark and Fancy Nancy: The Musical

Local youths from throughout San Diego County are performing two productions of Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark and Fancy Nancy: The Musical presented by San Diego Junior Theatre.

When siblings Jack and Annie accidentally stumble upon a tree house time machine, they find themselves transported back to the time of the dinosaurs. Mary Pope Osborne’s award-winning children’s book comes to life in Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark KIDS directed by San Diego Junior Theatre alumnus, Eric vonMetzke.

Can Fancy Nancy bring fancy flair to her role as a tree in her very first show?  Find out in Fancy Nancy: The Musical, based on the bestselling Fancy Nancy children’s books by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. Fancy Nancy: The Musical is directed by Barb Schoenhofer.

Rippledink’s Repertory runs January 2nd through January 18th at Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado Theatre on Fridays at 7 p.m. and weekends at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets range from $11 to $15 and are available online at or by calling (619) 239-8355.

Founded in 1948, San Diego Junior Theatre is the oldest youth theater in the United States. Positively affecting students of all abilities, ages 4 through 18, it thrives through show ticket sales, class and camp enrollments and the generosity of its alumni and community members. Contributions to San Diego Junior Theatre are tax-deductible.

Photo credit: Ken Jacques Photography