COOLIDGE — School is almost out — and for Arizona Community Theatre that means that the real fun is just about to begin.
Local children’s and community theater program ACT 1 is gearing up for another jam-packed summer season. The nonprofit organization is known for producing family-friendly shows for both area children and adults to take part in.
Previous productions the theater organization has put on include “Aladdin Jr.,” “The Mousetrap” and “Guys & Dolls.”
Now ACT 1 is getting ready to roll back the curtains on its latest youth theater production, Disney’s “Frozen Jr.”
Like the popular animated movie, the musical features the Disney characters and songs young audiences have come to know and love, plus five additional musical pieces written for the Broadway performance.
“Frozen Jr.,” which features a cast ranging from 7 to 18 years of age, will be performed on the theater’s stage located at Cool Image Dance Studio, 670 W. Pima Ave. The production is directed by Rebecca Freader and is one of the organization’s largest shows, featuring an estimated 50 cast members.
The show will be performed June 28 and 29.
“This is our first big show at our stage in Cool Image,” said ACT 1 board President Kristi Freader. “We’re using every inch of that stage. There’s a lot of background ensemble parts in this one where kids will be dancing and making the stage really move.”
Although ACT 1 has previously performed at facilities such as the Coolidge Performing Arts Center, the group decided to develop its own stage within Cool Image as well. The performance stage was completed midway through 2018 and has since been enhanced by way of a grant awarded to the program through the Gila River Indian Community.
Improvements to the stage include the addition of stage lights and curtains.
The nonprofit also recently wrapped up the community theater performance of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” a performance that was open to both teens and adults.
But although the final performance for the production was held May 4, Freader said that show may just make a reappearance as the group’s first traveling production in the winter.
In addition to the youth program, ACT 1 has also developed a “Littles” theater program, designed for children ages 3 to 6. Approximately 15 children are signed up for Littles theater, which will perform its first show — a Dr. Seuss-themed production — on June 1.
The community theater program will also take a group of young actors to New York City over the summer to participate in the Broadway Student Summit, taught by cast and crew members from the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
Those headed to New York for the summer will take a stage makeup workshop and an acting class through Broadway Inbound as well. In addition, students have the opportunity to see three Broadway shows. They are: “Hamilton,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “The Play that Goes Wrong.”
In an effort to help those attendees still in need of some additional money for the trip, ACT 1 will hold a fundraising production on June 8 entitled “The Reluctant Dragon.”
The play is adapted by Sherry McCurley and is based on the book of the same name by Kenneth Grahame. It tells the story of a poetry-loving dragon and the friendship he forms with St. George.
“This is a show by kids for kids,” Freader said. “It’s a performance that’s meant for a young audience.”
Tickets for the fundraising performance go on sale May 25.
Freader said that at the end of July, auditions for “Annie” will begin. The community performance will be open to actors ages 7 through adult.