The Young Artists’ Theatre Project of Danville, a new group created in collaboration with RiverStage Community Theatre, will produce Avenue Q: School Edition the weekend of July 28-30, 2017, at the Danville Middle School in Danville.  RiverStage, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization, will serve as executive producer for the show and the Young Artists’ Theatre Project board, board president Tom Beiter, and show director John Brady (of Danville’s Zing Productions) will hire cast & crew and bring the show to life.

The Young Artists’ Theatre Project is being funded solely by donations and sponsorships, which will go directly toward the cost of this production, budgeted for $15,000. “In addition to the usual expenses associated with full-scale musicals,” Beiter said, “we have the opportunity to utilize the Broadway production puppets which will give both our actors and our audiences the best possible theatrical experience.” Jennifer Wakeman, president of RiverStage, added that the fundraising goal is above and beyond the needs of this show in order to endow the group with the means to continue producing live theatre every year.  “This isn’t just a once-and-done proposition. RiverStage is committed to developing a program that provides young actors, musicians, set designers, and technical crew with opportunities to learn from professionals.”  A GoFundMe campaign and donations from corporations and individuals has already raised nearly $5,000.

“This collaboration fits perfectly with our mission to bring live theatre to stages across the Susquehanna Valley,” continued Wakeman. “For the past three years, RiverStage has produced our own summer musical in Danville, but thanks to our new mainstage home at Greenspace Center, we are excited to be producing our first-ever musical in Lewisburg, The Pirates of Penzance.  So we were happy to be able to expand summer theatre opportunities in the Valley by teaming up with a group of Danville residents committed to giving kids a chance to participate in Avenue Q: School Edition there.

Avenue Q: School Edition was selected, in part, because it had originally been scheduled for production at Danville High School this spring, until the high school administration announced their decision to halt the show’s rehearsals, already in progress.  Their announcement that the show—a satire of a children’s television program that deals with issues of sexual orientation, racism, intolerance and homelessness, among others—was “too controversial” was viewed negatively by some in the community.  The parents and students at the core of the Young Artists’ Theatre Project are concerned about censorship of the performing arts in schools and are working together to find a positive solution to a negative situation.

Avenue Q: School Edition will be performed July 28-30, at the Danville Middle School.  This show is a school appropriate version of the 3 Tony Award winning Broadway musical. The show deals with the inhabitants of a brownstone neighborhood in New York, many of whom are Muppetstyle hand puppets, manipulated by the actors.  Princeton, just out of college, is seeking an apartment, a girlfriend and a “purpose” for his life. Kate Monster is battling racial discrimination and loneliness, while roommates Nicky and Rod are grappling with their own identities. The show is rated PG-13.

Inquiries for more information or regarding off-stage opportunities in set building, sound or lighting, can be sent to yatp@riverstagetheatre.org.

The show will be performed at the Danville Middle School auditorium on July 28, 29 & 30. To make a donation to the GoFundMe campaign, go to www.gofundme.com/young-artists-theatre-project/donate.  RiverStage is a registered 501c(3) arts organization, and all contributions are tax deductible.  If you would prefer to make a one-time tax-deductible donation to RiverStage and the Young Artists’ Theatre Project here instead of at GoFundMe, just click the button below.  Thank you for your support!