Students from across the state, including several from Cranston and Warwick, will take the stage this weekend for the Rhode Island Youth Theatre summer camp’s performances of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The performers agree that their experience at the camp leaves them feeling like family – and stays with them well after the two-week program concludes.
“I’ve done three shows with RIYT and I’ve found that it has helped me to make more friends, my acting and singing skills have improved, and I’ve been able to help influence other people,” said Cranston’s Jordyn Amato, a ninth-grader at La Salle Academy. “I have done other school productions and singing competitions, too, and this has helped me with those.”
Warwick’s Tom Fitzgerald has been appearing in RIYT performances for about five years and has at least 30 shows under his belt. It’s the warm, welcoming atmosphere that he has most enjoyed.
“Even from the beginning, this was a warm, welcoming place, and it’s really helped me to figure out what I want to do,” he said. “Many of the people who were here when I started five years ago are still here now.”
Emmaline Hall, an eighth-grader at Hope Highlands Middle School in Cranston, agrees.
“This is my fifth show here,” she said. “From the start, it has been a family environment and it has helped me grow as a performer, but it’s also helped me to learn things I could apply outside of this company, like stage presence, audition skills, technical skills and how to work with other people.”
Lucy Eldridge, a Warwick 10th-grader who attends La Salle Academy, said she has met some of her very best friends during her six years at RIYT.
“These are friends I can’t meet at school, and the two weeks I spend here are the highlight of my summer,” she said. “The same people come back every summer, which is great, but we are always welcoming to the new people who join us, too.”
It’s the professional feel of the RIYT performances that is often a draw to students coming in from other theater companies.
“Although I’ve only done two shows with RIYT, it’s been a totally different aspect than doing shows with other community theater groups,” said Cranston’s Payton Mays, a seventh-grader at Western Hills Middle School. “We have real set changes, professional costuming and professional-level productions with a giant cast. You learn a whole new aspect of theater and performing.”
This weekend offers theater-goers several different opportunities to see “Beauty and the Beast.” All three performances will be held at Cranston’s Park Theatre, located at 848 Park Ave.
Tickets for the first performance, which begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, cost $10. Tickets for the 7 p.m. shows on Aug. 2 and Saturday, Aug. 3, cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at riyt.org.