SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- My daughter, Maya Handler, and her five theatrically minded friends, have single handedly procured, produced, directed/choreographed, designed, rehearsed and will perform, a full length theatrical production this weekend. Oh, did I mention they age from 13 - 16 years old? I am beyond proud; I am impressed and astounded by what a love of theater can inspire these young people to do.
This production has been a labor of love; taking up weekends, evenings and hours (after homework) since its inception in May. I have been told although they always found time to eat, mostly macaroni and cheese and pizza, they have worked tirelessly on making this a “professional” and successful endeavor. They formed Sidekicks! Theatre Troupe, creating a website, instagram and YouTube accounts, etc. and fully believed from the get go that this would come to fruition.
Admittedly, although I thought the kids would have fun singing and dancing to one of their favorite little known shows, The Trail To Oregon by Team StarKid, I never thought they would take this so far and do so much. This “Oregang,” as they call themselves, has legs and was fueled with the fire of doing this on their own and making it a “real production.”
Maya and her talented friend, Gavin Lesnivich, began recruiting their equally talented friends to star, rehearse and form a stage crew. This production also stars Darren Kinzler, Lauren Mirenda, Katie Echols and Emmet Fynes and is stage managed by Emma Noriega.
They also reached out to Team StarKid, a theater company founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan by theater’s Darren Criss and his friends, to get the official rights. The actors’ families put in the money to cover the costs. Maya found a YouTube musical arranger to do the tracks, and reached out to All Saints Church to arrange a venue; both agreed to help gratis.
Gail Marie Sprague, of S.T.A.R.S. Theater in Scotch Plains, an inspiration to the Oregang and oft-times director and costumer, volunteered her time and equipment to work sound and lighting. She said she was “paying forward” some of the help given to her when she was getting her theater programs off the ground.
This weekend these young thespians will see their dream actualized and we, their parents, will see them live their best lives doing what they love. I may not understand the dancing lobster costume, you have to come to see for yourselves, or the song glamorizing dysentery on the trail, but the dedication and talent emanating from these young performers is crystal clear for all to see.
Please come support these talented and ambitious kids at their three performances at All Saints Episcopal Church: October 11th at 7:30 pm, October 12th at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome! Proceeds benefit All Saints Church (Park Ave., Scotch Plains), for providing the venue, and Sidekicks! Theatre Troupe, to fund further productions.