Troupe Helps Kids Find a Home on the Stage

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Patterson Daily Herald Correspondent

Jessica Davis is pretty comfortable on stage.

The 13-year-old from Batavia has performed key roles in productions at Faith Christian School in Geneva, where she is in the eighth grade; at her church; and for several local theater groups.

So when she got a part in Rising Star Theatreworks' first show last year, it wasn't an entirely new experience.

Except it kind of was.

"It was so much fun," Davis said. "I made a lot of new friends. I learned a lot and grew a lot from that production."

Davis took on the role of Taluleh in "Bugsy Malone." Among other things, she learned how to better project her voice and what some of those odd-sounding stage terms really mean.

Maybe the biggest lesson she learned is that she and other budding actors and actresses she had never met before can work together to make words and notes on paper come to life.

"Probably by the end of the show, we were more like a family than a group of kids," she said.

That's the idea, said Jeanne Barabasz, president of the up-and- coming youth theater group.

"When they come to do a show, they're taken for who they are by all those kids from all different schools and environments," Barabasz said. "They can blossom in that environment."

Rising Star Theatreworks is holding auditions for "The Music Man" Friday and Saturday at the United Methodist Church of Geneva, 211 Hamilton St. Performances are scheduled for June 18 to 20 at Geneva High School.

"Our philosophy is teaching these kids not only theater skills.....but life (skills)," Barabasz said.

Barabasz and her colleagues each have worked with youth theater groups in the Fox Valley for a decade or more. …