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Setting the stage for young actors
Photo supplied From left, Emma Guenther, Allison Leutenegger, Molly Marass and Rachel Love perform in the Monroe Theatre Guilds production of Fiddler on the Roof in August. The guild recently began a youth program to help more young people get involved with local theater productions.
MONROE - Suzanne Miller wants more children and teens to participate in Monroe Theatre Guild (MTG) productions.

The guild has seen an increase in interest in theater and performing arts in the area. Many of the guild's shows include parts for children.

The guild recently began the Stage Right Youth Theatre Company to serve Green County and the surrounding region.

There always has been more kids who wanted to perform than parts available, Miller said.

"We usually get twice, or even triple, sometimes, the number of kids who audition than the number of parts (available for them) in the play," she said.

She said about 30 kids auditioned for the eight roles available in "A Christmas Carol," last year.

Miller said it's hard to turn the kids away. Some don't get roles because they don't have enough experience in theater productions. Stage Right Youth Theatre Company will help young people build their performance skills.

Miller wanted to form the youth group because she grew up with a love for the stage.

"As an arts-loving kid who grew up in an area with no arts opportunities, I have made it a personal mission to give kids a chance to explore their creativity in both visual and performing arts," she said.

The group will meet at the STAGE building, 910 16th Ave., for its classes. The building is large enough to provide a rehearsal area and small-scale performances.

High school students will be eligible for classes in improvisation, acting, set design and technical theater. Middle school students can take part in classes that include physical comedy, stage combat and set and prop design. Elementary students can take classes in sock puppet theater, masks and mime and puppetry.

Local directors will run the workshops. Miller said MTG hopes to bring outside directors once the program is established.

The first youth workshop is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for ages 14-24. Cost is $25 for MTG members and $30 for non-members.

The Stage Right Youth Theatre Company will present "Fairytale Theatre" in July. The performance will be written, directed, performed and designed by children in the company.

MTG also will offer a vocal program to encourage students with an interest in choral singing. The MTG Youth Choir program will begin with a spring session in May and will conclude with a concert performance mid-June. The Junior Youth Choir is for students ages 8-12 and the Senior Youth Choir for students ages 13-18. No previous vocal training or choral singing experience is required to join.

The program will help singers learn basic music reading skills, vocal techniques and rehearsal skills.

Information about all of these classes and programs can be found in the Stage Right Youth Theatre Company area on the Monroe Theatre Guild Web site at or by calling (608) 325-1111.

There are some fees for the workshops to help cover costs but some scholarships will be available for people unable to pay.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the MTG youth scholarship fund can send a check to MTG, P. O. Box 481, Monroe, WI 53566. The envelope or check should be labeled "Youth Scholarship Fund."