BRTF celebrates 20 years of community youth theater

The cast of the Boquet River Theatre Festival’s “Music Man, Jr.,” set to take the stage Friday, Aug. 16.

The cast of the Boquet River Theatre Festival’s “Music Man, Jr.,” set to take the stage Friday, Aug. 16. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— For the past 20 years, aspiring thespians in the region have taken to the stage as part of the Boquet River Theatre Festival.

The youth theater program has evolved over those two decades, including watching as one of its own has gone from actress to director.

“I have been with BRTF for 14 of the 20 years,” Alyssa Carroll said. “I started here when I was 8 years old acting and started directing four years ago.”

This year, Carroll and her sister, Kelsey (musical director), are teaming with 32 North Country youth ranging from ages 8 to 14 to present “The Music Man, Jr.”

“It has been a lot of fun working with her this year,” Alyssa said.

The performances will take place with a Friday, Aug. 16, and Saturday, Aug. 17, 7 p.m. opening curtain, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Aug. 18.

The company picked “Music Man” because they wanted to have a traditional musical to help celebrate the anniversary.

“Since this is our 20th anniversary season, we wanted to go with a musical standard,” Alyssa said. “We usually attract a multi-generational audience with friends, parents and grandparents of the actors, so we wanted something that gave everyone a chance to know the music and something that the cast could really have fun with.”

One of the biggest changes with BRTF was the transition into doing Broadway style shows.

“In the beginning, the director (Erika Stadtlander) wrote all of the shows,” Alyssa said. “She was here for the first 12 years of the program. After that, we have gone to professional shows that have also been performed on Broadway.”

The cast of 32 includes many veterans to the BRTF stage, and they practice for three weeks leading up to the performances, starting July 29.

“We do have a few new people, but the majority of the people who are here are returning to the program,” Alyssa said. “We have a lot of kids who understand what to expect, and they are ready for the routine.”

Tickets for BRTF’s presentation of “The Music Man, Jr.” are $12 for adults and $8 for students. All proceeds go toward BRTF programming.

For more information, visit the website brtf.com.

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