TP Youth 2020

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Dainty Mabel photoWhat is Theatre Palisades Youth?
TPY is the youth theater production group at the Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. There are two productions a year -- one that begins rehearsing in January and performs in late February/early March, and one that rehearses the entire month of July and performs at the end of July/early August. These are professional quality shows performed in our 125-seat community theater, before paying audiences. This is a real theater experience, with a professional and experienced director and production staff.

How can I find out about the next play?
Once a TPY show is selected, auditions are announced on our Web site (, on the Theatre Palisades Facebook page, via Twitter (@TPYouth), in the Palisadian-Post newspaper, on and in the e-mail newsletter Auditions for the winter show are usually in November, and auditions for the summer show are usually in April.

What age range actors will you accept?
The general range for our productions is 3rd through 9th grade. We try our best to find a place for any motivated, age-appropriate child, whether it is on the stage or behind the scenes. We even have some of our alums who return as mentors (dance or acting coaches, stage managers, or lighting or sound techs, for example) to our younger performers.

Many parents ask why we don’t regularly cast children younger than 3rd grade. Because of the demands of rehearsals and the performance schedule, we find this is the youngest we can accommodate successfully. The director for each show will determine what age actors are appropriate to audition for that particular show, and the age range will be included in announcements about auditions.

Why do you audition the children?
We feel the audition process is a good first step for any young performer to accomplish. Our goal is to see if your child is ready to perform on stage, and if so, to place him or her in a role in which s/he will have the most success. In no case is an audition used to humiliate or bring down a child. Auditions are done in the most respectful and gentle manner, and all applicants are fully considered. We welcome theater beginners and those without formal training. They are our next generation of theatergoers!

Please note that the audition is a selection process, and on some shows not everyone who auditions will be able to be cast. The director agonizes over these selections; they are not made lightly.

Annie Photo

How do auditions work?
In general, auditions are held over two days. When you arrive, we ask parents to sign their child in and fill out a short application. Children are auditioned in the order they arrive. Parents are not allowed in the theater during auditions, so please don’t ask! When your child is called in, the director will no doubt ask your child his/her name, what grade, etc. to help your child feel at ease and get a sense of their personality. The director will then ask the child to sing a song of his choosing a capella (unaccompanied), read a scene or perhaps tell a joke. At some auditions, the choreographer may also take a group of children together and teach them a simple piece of choreography to get a sense of how they move. All of it is done for the purpose of determining where your child will have the most successful experience.

What is the financial commitment for the program?
Theatre Palisades charges a nominal fee for each child to participate in our productions. This fee may vary from show to show, but will always be disclosed up front. The fee helps us to cover our production costs.

What is expected from parents?
If your child is auditioning, once s/he has been cast, please know that you will be asked for your involvement in one or more areas of the production (e.g. costume assembly or alterations, locating props, stage dressing or painting or building, dress rehearsal supervision, cleaning and organizing, cast party, photography, publicity, work day, etc.). Theatre Palisades is run by an enthusiastic all-volunteer village!

What is the time commitment for the program?
For the winter show, rehearsals are usually several days a week after school, and all day on Saturdays, for the months of January and February. The time each actor is needed may vary depending on the role. The director determines the rehearsal schedule and relays the information to the cast. It is most likely that all actors will be needed for all Saturday rehearsals.

For the summer program, rehearsal is usually 9 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with some possible Saturday rehearsals. There will be extended hours during production week as we approach opening night.

Both shows usually run 6-8 performances spanning two weekends.

Because of the intensive nature of the winter and summer programs, participation requires a time commitment that is not casual. Participants will be asked to limit or avoid entirely any absences, and to postpone vacations until after the last performance. Once actors are cast, the entire production depends on their attendance, and missing actors bring rehearsals to a grinding halt.

Are children expected to attend every day of summer camp/rehearsal?
Yes. As you can imagine, it is disruptive to the rehearsal process if one or more children aren’t there. This is not a drop-in camp where an actor can choose to not attend one or more days a week if s/he simply doesn’t feel like it. We expect and need all actors to honor the commitment they made to themselves and their cast mates. Schoolhouse Rock play phoeo

We have found that although the camp is rigorous in this way, the children have plenty of fun as well as the amazing sense of accomplishment that comes from hard work, commitment and being a part of something bigger than themselves. Many of our actors report that they have made close friendships during their TP experience, so that is another plus.

How is the summer program different than a summer camp?
TP Youth is unlike traditional summer camps that are set up so kids who opt out of the main activity have a multitude of other options. Instead, this is a defined program focused on producing a play at the end of the term. Because of that, this program is not geared to the whim of each individual child. Instead, the children learn the importance of being part of an ensemble and are expected to be full participants in the process from beginning to end. They will need to study and memorize the script, know their cues, lines and songs, will be expected to get themselves in costume and follow guidance from the show director, stage manager and musical director.

Theatre Palisades Youth Productions

July/August 2019: “The Little Mermaid Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

Feb./March 2019: “Guys and Dolls Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

July/August 2018: “Disney's Peter Pan Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

March 2018: “Disney's The Lion King Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

July/August 2017: “Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

Feb./March 2017: “Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

July 2016: “Xanadu Jr.” directed by Lara Ganz

Feb./March 2016: “Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue & Lara Ganz

July/August 2015: “Bugsy Malone Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2015: “Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2014: “Shrek The Musical” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2014: “The Ever After - A Musical” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2013: “Willy Wonka Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2013: “High School Musical Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2012: “Alice In Wonderland Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2012: “Brats In Space” (West Coast Premiere) directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2011: “Little Women the Musical” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2011: “Piggy Nation the Musical” (World Premiere) directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2010: “The Wind in the Willows” (World Premiere) directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

February 2010: “The Emperor's New Clothes (The Musical)” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2009: “Annie Jr.,” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

Feb./March 2009: “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July/August 2008: “Dainty Mabel and the Spiteful Child from Saskatoon,” directed by Nancy Fracchiolla

Feb./March 2008: “How to Eat like a Child” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

July 2007: “The Wizard of Oz” directed by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

March 2007: “Bubba, the Cowboy Prince” (World Premiere) directed by Nancy Fracchiolla

July 2006: “42nd Street” directed by Nancy Fracchiolla

March 2006: “Once on this Island” directed by Hope Villanueva

2005: "Seussical, the Musical" directed by Hope Villanueva

2004: "Charlotte's Web" directed by Diane Chesne

2003: "Medicine Tree" original production written by Gail Wirth and Barbara Bentree; directed by Barbara Bentree

2002: "Journey" original production written by Gail Wirth and Barbara Bentree; directed by Barbara Bentree

2001: “Oklahoma” directed by Barbara Bentree

2000: “Brigadoon” directed by Barbara Bentree

1999: “The Music Man” directed by Barbara Bentree


This has been such a wonderful experience for Brendan. He sings through the show from beginning to end and is really enthused and excited. I really can't think of any negatives associated with it -- other than his saying, "Mom, I really want to be in the movies ... but I know you're not that kind of Mom."
--Elizabeth Terry, Santa Monica Canyon

To our family, being part of “How to Eat Like a Child” meant that we had a wonderful feeling of being a part of our neighborhood/community. During the two months of rehearsal and performances, our son matured and actually became more efficient with his homework and school projects.
--Karin Ulfvengren, Pacific Palisades 

I have performed in a variety of shows at Theatre Palisades, including “Seussical” (woot woot woot!), “Once on this Island,” “42nd Street” and “Bubba the Cowboy Prince.” It's a great place for kids who love theater to express themselves and put on a show for their community, and you really learn all the stuff that goes into putting on a show. I think Theatre Palisades Youth has really been the base of what has prepared me for this love of theater.
--Sasha Leshner, Pacific Palisades

Theatre Palisades Youth is a wonderful organization that teaches young actors what theater is really about. Not only do you learn how to work in a group, hone your singing, dancing, and acting skills, and pull off a professional play, you also have a blast doing it and you meet some great friends. I love TPY and always look forward to coming back and doing a new production!
--Daniela Grinblatt, Pacific Palisades

I had a great time in Theatre Palisades. I learned a lot about theater and that the best show you can put on is the one you are having the most fun in. I have been lucky enough to get into three of Theatre Palisades’ youth performances and I hope to do many, many more.
--Melissa Schem, Pacific Palisades

With TPY being our first production outside of school, we certainly did not know what to expect. We didn't know we were going to have the time of our lives, while learning more than we could imagine. Our experience with TPY has been outstanding and makes for a memorable summer. My daughter anxiously awaits the next season!
--The Durazo Family, Manhattan Beach

After appearing in quality TPK shows such as “How to Eat Like a Child,” "Seussical," "Once on this Island," "42nd Street," "Bubba," and "Wizard of Oz,” I have developed a love for live theater that will stay with me forever. My respect and love for acting grows every time I do a play at Theatre Palisades. The education and life skills I have learned from the directors, choreographers, and producers will follow me into high school and college, and throughout life.
--Michael Kirshner, Pacific Palisades

I have done five shows with Theatre Palisades Youth, and I think it is a great way to meet new friends/people. You learn to focus on your responsibilities, trust your fellow actors and also at the end of all the hard work and rehearsals, you put on a great show as well as a community event!
--Veronica Ellis, Pacific Palisades

Being in a play teaches focus, poise and teamwork in a fun and happy environment. Earning a lead role in "Seussical" shortly after moving here immediately made my son feel he belonged in this community. He has learned so much (including the God of Death's evil laugh that keeps reappearing) and had such a great time that I will always be grateful to those who worked hard to make this experience possible. Thank you Theatre Palisades!
--Cathi Ruddy, Pacific Palisades parent

Having lived through five productions at Theater Palisades, I am amazed at how my daughter has grown – her technical and artistic skills, her sense of responsibility, and her sheer enthusiasm for the craft and the process of live theater! Theatre Palisades Youth somehow is a perfect mix – of professionalism and high expectations, from the directors, producers and trainers – and yet, of warmth and community spirit.
-- Kirsten Ellis, Pacific Palisades parent

TPY was one of the most amazing experiences of my daughter's life, honestly. And, in that way, it made it one of the most amazing experiences for me, as well. Thank you again. I get a little misty just thinking about the whole thing.
--Janna Kalichman, Pacific Palisades

I find the theatrical experience at Theatre Palisades extremely important for kids. All of the children get involved in almost every aspect of the craft. I've known kids to assist in set and costume building as well as stage management and board operation. TPY provides not just excellent performance opportunities, but also the love of the entire creative experience.
--Andrew Zimmer, musical director



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