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July 25. 2014 9:13PM

Theater provides creative outlet for kids


Ranging in age from 9 to 18, members of the Windham Actors Guild’s new youth program will perform “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” next month. (Courtesy)

WINDHAM — A longtime local theater troupe is raising the curtains on a new children’s program.

Next month, the Windham Actors Guild’s youth group will perform their first-ever production, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

The show’s 19 cast members range in age from 9 to 18. Many of them live in Windham, though some are from the communities of Hampstead, Salem and several bordering Massachusetts towns.

“Up until now, we really didn’t have anything for younger actors,” said Colleen Strang, the show’s director. “So we wanted to offer something to serve as a learning experience while keeping it low-key.”

Auditions for the show took place in late May and surpassed organizers’ expectations.

“We ended up with a fantastic group of kids,” Strang said. “Some of them are here because they simply love the theater, but others are here to boost their confidence and speaking skills.”

Strang, along with the show’s musical director, fellow Windham resident Katy Ortega, has been working with the cast since school let out for the summer.

Rehearsals take place three days a week and over the past month, the two local educators have witnessed much talent in the making.

“We’ve made it so everyone gets at least one or two lines and a small singing snippet,” Strang said. “And everyone has risen to the occasion. It’s been amazing to see.”

Windham resident Sam Cohen, 14, stars as Charlie Brown.

Cohen, who has had some small roles in the Guild’s adult productions, said he’s been acting and singing since age 4.

“It’s definitely an interesting character to play,” he said of his experiences playing the famous cartoon underdog. “You have to put yourself in a place where you’re kind of shy all the time. I’ve gotten to know Charlie pretty well.”

Cohen will be joined by fellow Windham residents Leo Ducharme as Linus, Alicia Markham as Snoopy, Gracie St. Laurent as Frieda, Kevin Guven as Pig Pen, Samuel Corey as Rerun, Nick Frazier as Shermy, Brittany Missert as Violet, and Sage Ulery as Woodstock.

The youth ensemble includes Windham residents Joshua Corey, Abby St. Laurent, Lindsay White, and Sophie Desrosiers.

Sally is played by Pepperell, Mass., resident Julie Sampson. Wilmington resident Nicole Tetreault has the role of Lucy and is joined by Jim Lawrenson, also of Wilmington, as Schroeder. They are joined by Hampstead resident Emily Fitzgerald as Peppermint Patty. Also cast in the youth ensemble are Salem residents Ashley and Madison Gee.

Lawrenson, who is 17 in real life, said it’s been fun playing the role of an 8-year-old boy.

“Sometimes it’s a challenge to sing in a higher voice,” he laughed.

Ducharme, 14, said he can personally relate to the character of Linus, who never ventures far without his blue security blanket.

“I kind of connect with him because I used to carry around a stuffed toy when I was a little kid,” he said. “Linus also has some of the best lines.”

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be performed at Windham High School on Aug. 8, 9 and 10.

Evening performances on Friday and Saturday will take place at 7, with Saturday and Sunday matinees to take place at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

For information or to reserve tickets visit www.windhamactorsguild.com or call 247-8634.

AGuilmet@newstote.com


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