Light Up The Night

Local production Friday takes audience through distant galaxies, unexplored worlds

Photos submitted to Times Observer ARTE Students become undersea creatures with some help from the make-up work of volunteers. Pictured are (clockwise from the top) Facepainting volunteer Sue Puhl, Queen Angel Fish Lilly Berdine, Parrot Fish Carly Russell, Volunteer and mom Renee Berdine and Angler Fish Maxwell Smith.

Light Up The Night, Struthers Library Theatre Academy’s newest production, showcases the work of local students and their parents on stage as well as behind the scenes.

In fact, Light Up The Night would not be possible without the efforts of students from the classroom to the carpenter’s bench and of parents from the costume shop to cameos.

Light Up The Night is a celebration of light that travels with Luke and Leia to galaxies far, far away; dives into oceans of blacklight with Jacques Cousteau; and showcases phenomenal local talent.

Though we will all have a chance to cheer the amazing work of students onstage this Friday, we would like to give a round of applause to the students and parents whose efforts made Light Up The Night possible.

The work of Teacher Assistants (TAs) starts in the classroom. This semester, Ailsa Boger, Brionna Childs, Samantha Morgan, Brook Siliano and Abby Waterman worked with students ages 6 to 14 in SLT Academy’s Allegheny Regional Theatre Experience. (ARTE)

As TAs these students have helped ARTE students perfect their lines, develop characters, learn to read music, practice improv and generally build a strong company.

“I enjoyed seeing the kids grow and learn so quickly,” said TA Ailsa Boger. “They made me laugh and made me so proud of how hard they worked.”

TA Samantha Morgan shared, “When I started as a teaching assistant, the kids stole my heart! It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, when I get around the kids, I can’t help but smile.”

Brionna Childs and Abby Waterman have returned to the ARTE classroom they loved as students to serve as teacher assistants.

“I love these kids. They are wonderful and getting to teach them all the things I got to learn is the most exciting thing in the world,” said Brionna Childs.

Childs and Waterman will also be performing a duet of “I See The Light” in the show this Friday night.

TA Brook Siliano will be working on the stage crew and assisting parents and community volunteers in transforming ARTE students into ocean fish in the make up chair.

Light Up The Night sets, make up studies and properties were designed or built during Youth-With-Adult Technical Theatre Workshops throughout the year.

Stage lighting designs created for Molly Dies Dance Express members in a week-long lighting design intensive last summer will be reprised for Light Up The Night and will feature dancers Alaina Stewart and Brea Toto.

“As a dancer, performing for the light show was so different,” said Dance Express member Alaina Stewart. “It added an entirely new element to my performance. Not only did it help me to perform bigger and more confidently, but it also help to complete the overall image of my dance for the audience.”

“I loved seeing what it was like to have cool and exciting lights! It gave the dance even more life than before,” said Brea Tota of Molly Dies Dance Express.

Alex Huffman, a student who participated in the summer lighting design intensive credited the class and his ongoing apprenticeship at the theatre with teaching him “how to see as a lighting designer, how to operate the board, follow spots and how to effectively communicate.” Alex has set a goal of attending “college for lighting and theatre production.” He loves being involved in theatre and feels lucky for the opportunity, as he adds, “SLT Academy is the only place in this area where you can get this kind of experience and training.”

Academy student Mayan Cook is completing a Professional Internship project by serving as stage manager for Light Up The Night. In her internship, Mayan is learning the ropes from Children’s Theatre Company’s Production Stage Manager Jenny Friend Bolling.

“Theatre has been a huge part of my life and I know it always will be,” Said Mayan. “This professional Internship at SLT Academy is helping me further my passion and figure out what I want to do with theatre in my future.”

Over a dozen ARTE students have signed up to participate in special performance projects such as an interactive light dance and a story told completely through movement and shadows.

SLT Academy parents have been working as hard as the students.

“I really like doing the backstage work of theatre,” said Academy parent and Light Up The Night Stage Crew Manager Christine Smith. “I love seeing all the hard work come together into a spectacular show. I love seeing the kids’ confidence and excitement just before they enter the stage and their look of satisfaction when they leave.”

“I like to volunteer because I feel like I am giving back to the program that has given my girls so much,” said ARTE parent and body microphone maven Katie Keeports. “I also enjoy learning new skills and having an opportunity to interact with other parents and kids who impact my children’s lives.”

Academy parent and Light Up The Night Properties Mistress Tiffany Mandeville shared this about volunteering, “Not only do I get to spend time with my kids doing something they love, but I learn something new every time I step into theater. I feel I am part of a new community and I have developed relationships that feed my soul.”

At the end of the day, it is all about working together to create a great experience for audiences and a great learning experience. “There are so many things I love about performing with SLT Academy, added Alaina Stewart. “It is always great being surrounded by people who are so dedicated to their art form. Everyone’s commitment and determination for success combined with the fun, relaxed atmosphere makes it a truly amazing experience.”

Light Up The Night, being performed at Struthers Library Theatre this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. promises to be an amazing journey to distant galaxies and unexplored worlds for the whole family. If you would like to join in the fun, Light Up The Night tickets are available at the door Friday evening or at the theatre office from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.