Theater group marks 30th year

LAKE GEORGE Former Lake George schoolteacher Mickey Luce is entering his 30th year as director of Youtheatre, which offers young people the opportunity to perform in a professional environment. In the 1970s, Luce developed an idea for a theater group which would be an alternative to sports for kids. The idea became a reality in 1978 when Youtheatre was born. The starting team was made up of four eager individuals, Fay Robinson on piano, Don Siano as music director, Peg Williams as scenic artist and Luce as director. The first season, in the Little Theater at Lake George Elementary School, they had 25 players take part in three childrens musicals with an audience made up mainly of parents and a few friends. Our first five years were pretty lean and quite a struggle to keep afloat, Luce said. 1983 was the first year the group had a choreographer, Nan Girard, and the first year they performed a Broadway musical, Annie. And had our first sold out crowd, Luce said. Youtheatre was finally catching on! The popularity of Youtheatre continued to grow as well as the number of kids involved. Luce said the group now accepts between 50 and 55 students each year and the productions moved to the newly renovated Lake George High School auditorium in 1991. In 1993, Nancy Armstrong came on as music director and Youtheatre was the very first to obtain the rights to the musical Once On This Island. Since then, the group has obtained shows such as Annie Warbucks, The Secret Garden, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Les Miserables, last seasons Cats and this years Chorus Line. In 1998, Amity Luce Aurilio took over the job as scenic designer and in 1999, Kelly (Ecker) Fidopiast became Youtheatres second choreographer. Luce said that Youtheatre would not be possible without its staff. Fay Robinson has continued her musical genius on the piano for the past 30 years, he said. Our newest addition last year was Laura Lee Conti as our music director. Kelly and Amity have continued on as choreographer and scenic designer. Lanni Luce West has taken on the role of assistant director for the past ten seasons, and Luce himself remains director. Luce said that although much has changed over the past 30 years, the idea has remained the same. We are still a four-week theater workshop during the month of July, for students ages 11-18, he said. In those four weeks, we now put on three major Broadway musicals. Performances are still at the Lake George High School auditorium, but instead of only parents and a few friends, the audiences are built from family, friends, tourists, and Youtheatre fans. Youtheatre is a tapestry of music, madness, magic, miracles and memories, Luce said. Our mission is based on the value of learning and self discovery. We strive to build self confidence and feelings of self worth and we hope that our players will develop an understanding that personal growth comes from sharing their talents with others. Youtheatre performers come from various communities but they all leave with two very important things; lifetime friendships and a love and respect for theater.

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