EUSTIS – Young Louie is a lonely child, who has moved into a new neighborhood where he doesn’t know anybody, and has no friends.
So on Halloween night, he returns to his old neighborhood, and does it in a rather unique way, by taking a magical and wondrous journey on the wings of his favorite toy, his little red plane.
Theater buffs, particularly those who enjoy an evening or afternoon watching a production suitable for the entire family, may recognize the plot of “Captain Louie Jr.,” the children’s musical by Anthony Stein, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and taken from the book “The Trip” by Ezra Jack Keats.
Or they might just like the sound of the whimsical plot, particularly in the way that Louie learns how to make new friends – and to appreciate old friends as well.
Amanda Warren certainly hopes that’s the case. During this Halloween season, when more than a few theater companies are looking for ways to scare the pants off audiences, she’s hoping to provide them with something warmer and more uplifting.
“It’s a completely Halloween-themed show, which is perfect for the season,” she said.
Amanda and her husband Joel Warren run the Bay Street Players’ YPT (Young People’s Theatre), a program that’s been operating since 1975 to improve the lives of children through the experience, educational training, and performance of theatrical arts.
Amanda Warren is the director of YPT, which is also the oldest continually running children’s theater program in Central Florida, and a program sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Warren, who has been acting, directing and doing choreography in Central Florida theaters for years, said working in the performing arts is a wonderful experience.
“It’s great,” she said. “The most rewarding thing you can do in the performing arts is to have a job in performing arts,” she said.
But it’s also a uniquely enriching experience, she said, to be able to do this work with kids. It’s like watching young aspiring talent growing their own wings, as young Louie does, she added.
“All the kids that are there want to be there, and they try so hard,” she said. “And it’s not babysitting. The more you throw at them, the happier they are. They’re really open to everything we do.”
The production class for “Captain Louie Jr.” started on Aug. 20. The performance dates for this show are Oct. 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m., and Oct. 20 and 21 at 2 p.m.
To reserve tickets, call 352-357-7777. The show is being performed at the Historic State Theatre at 109 N. Bay St. in downtown Eustis.
Seeing a show like “Captain Louie Jr.,” Warren said, is also a way to see how brilliantly young performers can shine on stage. That’s the goal behind YPT, she added.
“We offer classes that always end with productions,” Warren said. “The classes are eight (students) each, four hours a week, and they put together a full production.”
But this isn’t the only special performance the YPT students are working on this month.
Zombie Crawl will be on Sunday, Oct. 21, from noon to 5 p.m. in front of Mount Dora City Hall. This special Halloween-themed day will feature a zombie costume contest, a raffle drawing for a Walking Dead doll modeled after actress Madison Lintz and signed by the actress herself — and live entertainment from the Bay Street Young People’s Theatre. The acting company will be doing its own performance of Michael Jackson’s hit song and zombie-themed music video “Thriller.”
“It’s our kids from the program who are performing there,” Warren said. “Our main performance is all of our kids have learned the choreography to ‘Thriller.’ “
The students performing it will range from age seven to 17.
“The kids came into this with the idea of doing ‘Thriller,’ “ she said, adding that on Oct. 21, “Half of them will be performing ‘Captain Louie,’ and the other half will be doing Zombie Crawl.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.