Though most local acting troupes stick with the comedy or musical genre, leave it to teens to shake things up a bit.
The Young Artists Repertory Company throws a curveball to theater-goers with their presentation of Bad Seed, a thriller in which the villain is an 8-year-old girl.
"I know you bring a lot more people to a musical or a comedy than you can a drama, which is unfortunate," play director and YART Executive Director John Greene said. "People are really missing out on some good experiences that way. It is sort of my duty to bring to the kids a variety of shows."
The company, which features young actors, regularly tackle more serious subject matter. Previously, they have produced The Homecoming, the basis for the TV show The Waltons, and a melodramatic version of Dracula.
"I think it's good to give the kids a taste of something else every now and then," Greene said. "I wanted to do something that would challenge the kids. All of these kids, except for the little girl, are playing people much older than themselves. My young mother in the show has no experience being a mother. It's a stretch."
Perhaps no one is stretching more than the play's star, 11-year-old Samantha Henning. Not only is she playing someone three years younger than herself, she also is playing a suspected murderer.
"On stage, it's a whole other me," the Martinez Elementary School fifth-grader said. "I have to get into my character. I have to practice a lot by being my character. I just have to work at and try to be evil."
Already a veteran, Samantha began acting when she was 8. She had understudy parts in YART's Pollyanna and the Augusta Players' Charlotte's Web. She also performed supporting roles in YART's Dracula and The Homecoming." The role of Rhoda in Bad Seed marks her debut as a lead character.
"It's very exciting," Samantha said of the role. "I think it's exciting for the audience, too, because it keeps them on their toes."
Although Bad Seed is recommended for older children, Greene said the show isn't scandalous, and he wouldn't change it if it was.
"If I choose a show, and I try to choose appropriate shows, I'm going to do it," he said. "I'm not going to cut it to pieces. I'm not going to pander to the audience.
"Most of these kids today are fairly sophisticated. They've grown up with cable TV. There is very little that is going to be shocking to them."
IF YOU GO:
What: Bad Seed, a production of the Young Artists Repertory Company
When: It will be presented as a dinner theater Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. Dinner theater tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for students, and require reservations. Show-only tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students. Reservations can be made by calling 210-8915.
Where: The play will be staged in the Goodwin Commons of Augusta Preparatory Day School, 285 Flowing Wells Road, Martinez.
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