July 6, 2006


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Serious theater
Palace starts intensive Teen Company training
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The Palace Theatre in Manchester is adding an intensive musical theater training program for teens this August at a cost kept low for the inaugural semester

'It’s been something we’ve been wanting to do for the last five years,” Rebecca Peterson, marketing director, said. When Carl Rajotte became the resident artistic director, he found that the Palace offered programs for adults and youth but not teenagers. Palace organizers began producing teen shows and now feel they attract enough “dedicated” kids for Palace Teen Company. Two new rehearsal spaces in the Palace’s addition means there is actually room.

“It’s definitely for the students who are really dedicated to becoming a ‘triple threat’ as we call [people who act, sing and dance] in the business,” Peterson said. The group’s leaders want to teach the students time management, commitment and responsibility.

Students will workshop two productions in each four-month semester, mirroring the professional productions. They’ll rehearse three times per week overseen by Rajotte, and take dance class every Saturday morning. Professional visiting actors will offer workshops to the teens.

“That’s why we’re having this under the direction of the professional department, as opposed to the youth department,” Peterson said. It sounds like a gaggle of adolescents will be underfoot all the time during professional production. But Peterson claimed most actors are excited and are looking to pass on what they know.

“They’re ready for this,” Peterson said.

Although semesters run August through November and February through May, there are year-round opportunities for the Teen Company members. They can audition for the professional series, or for the Palace teen production in the winter or two in the summer, or for A Christmas Carol in December, Peterson said. The Palace will also expand its high school musical program from Central High School to a few other schools in Manchester and Nashua this winter.

Auditions for the fall semester are Tuesday, July 11, at 6 p.m. and Saturday, July 15, at 10 a.m. Students should pick songs and monologues they are comfortable with, Peterson said. “Don’t be afraid to audition if you can’t dance – we’re looking for people who have one thing they are really good at; we’ll help with the other things,” she said. She admitted they will be leaving intense acting methods for students to learn in college.

The semester fee is $400, low considering some camps cost that much per week. The Palace based the fee on its usual production fee of $65 per show, plus dance class costs. They will take up to 30 students, age 13 through 18.

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Wake up to ‘night Mother