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In theater, a variety of roles come together to make one successful show. If any of those roles are missing, no matter how small, something would be missing from the whole of the production.
That’s where many cast members of the Youth Theatre of Hardin County’s production of “Anything Goes” come in.
“Anything Goes” is a Cole Porter musical that takes place on a passenger ship and features popular songs “I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the Top” and “Anything Goes.”
“As the old saying goes, ‘there are no small parts, only small actors,’” director Eric Pope said.
The saying means every role is important as long as the performer believes it and knows their character, he said.
When an actor in a smaller role gives the character as much truth and reality as they can, it makes that character, no matter how minor, come to life, Pope said.
Kitty Timbers, 15, is a part of an ensemble of ship passengers and also delivers a line as an elderly woman in a wheelchair.
One of the main characters is a performer, and Timbers said her role wouldn’t make sense without the ensemble, which portrays the ship’s passengers and the main character’s audience.
Fellow ensemble member Jana Wiersema, 13, agreed. Her role is a passenger with one line.
“If there was no one on the ship except for a few people, it wouldn’t make sense,” she said.
Timbers compared the ensemble to a house of cards — remove one or two parts, and the whole structure would crumble.
On top of that, if there were less actors and actresses, fundraising for the production would would be more difficult, Wiersema said.
Even in the ensemble, Timbers said, an actor still draws attention for a perfectly placed ad-lib or making their one line stand out.
Starting in small roles also keeps actors humble, she said.
Timbers had a larger role in a Youth Theatre production last year but found she wasn’t on stage as much as she is in the ensemble. She also is part of big dance scenes, which she wasn’t a part of as a lead.
The ensemble also bonds more than leads because they spend time together off stage while leads are center stage. They might or might not spend time goofing off, but don’t tell the director, the girls said.
Smaller roles give young actors a chance to learn the acting craft, Pope said.
“We don’t expect that every one of the kids involved will walk onto the stage a seasoned performer their very first time,” he said.
If children start early, they can be in at least seven summer productions before they graduate high school.
“That’s quite a lot of training and experience they can earn while involved,” he said. “We have definitely seen it happen, kids have ensemble roles for a few shows then start to work their way into larger and larger parts until they play a lead role.”
Chaz McKinney, 17, is in his first Youth Theatre production. Even though he’s in the ensemble, because he’s one of the few tenors, he has to project his voice loudly to make that part strong in the ensemble.
He also has a few speaking parts in a variety of roles that deliver many punch lines. Each of these lines and roles he portrays are important to the story.
Sometimes smaller roles steal the show, delivering the best jokes to the audience, Pope said.
“Some of the best lines are often written for minor characters,” he said. “This happens quite often in musical comedy.”
McKinney said no matter the role, anyone who has an interest in theater should give it a try.
“Even if you are just in the back, moving all the props on and off the stage, you serve a much bigger role than anyone can realize,” he said.
Without a technical crew the show literally cannot go on, Pope said.
“These folks deal with the less glamorous aspects of putting on a fully staged musical and don’t always get the deserved credit,” he said.
This crew moves set pieces and scenery, handles and prepares props, cleans the stage before every show, prepares microphones and more, he said.
The young people involved with YTHC always pour their hearts and souls into the productions, Pope said.
“I am extremely proud of every one of them,” he said. “From the biggest leads, to the ones who dance and sing in the chorus, to those who stay backstage and are never seen by the audience, they are all stars to me.”
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Performances are 7 p.m. July 13-14 and July 19-21 and 3 p.m. July 15. There is a dinner at 5 p.m. before the July 19 show.
Tickets are $5 for children 12 and younger, $10 for adults and $30 for the dinner show. For more information, call (270) 735-7514.