December 7, 2006


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Young talent
New Acting Loft education director marches on, Palace parents lower youth acting fees
By Heidi Masek

When Billy Butler departed Manchester’s Acting Loft in October after two months as artistic director, he left his recent hire, education director Leah Belanger, to hold down the fort.

Belanger, a Londonderry native, received a B.A. in acting and directing from Keene State College in 2002, spent a year in New York, taught with the Hartford Stage and has worked with the Acting Loft and other area community and professional theater companies since 2004.

Currently, Belanger is working closely with the Acting Loft’s board of directors and chairman, Charlie Basbas, to run Acting Loft, but they will be searching for a new artistic director, she said. Belanger said she’s received plenty of support from Acting Loft, friends and family, and is positive about the educational theater group’s future. She just posted their spring course catalog.

“I feel like this is the most variety we’ve had at Acting Loft in our courses,” Belanger said. “One of the things we are looking to do is to expand the age range we offer courses to, and for each age range expand the number of courses.” They Loft has also added several new instructors.

Belanger’s long-term goal is to integrate the theatrical performance and theatrical education programs. Right now there isn’t a strong link other than the fact that students are being trained and know the audition dates, she said.

Most classes are geared toward youth from upper elementary school through high school at various skill levels, with some adult classes in acting, dance and voice. There are also classes to introduce young children to theater.

In other Manchester theater education news, the Palace Youth Theatre’s Parents of the Palace (P.O.P.) volunteer group has been in effect since May. The plan was for them to run fundraisers to lower the cost of the performance fee for Palace Youth shows. So far, the show fees have gone from $100 to $65 per youth actor per show, said Rebecca Peterson, Palace marketing director. For the cost, kids get two months of rehearsal time, costumes, and a cast T-shirt. Ticket sales help cover other costs, like heating and staffing.

Usually about 20 parents are involved in P.O.P. during a show, and they sell fundraising items at performances. Recently P.O.P. took over organizing the Palace’s float for the Manchester Christmas parade. “The more ideas they have, the more they take ownership of the program,” the more possible it will be to get rid of youth production fees, she said.

11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays

11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother