Youth Festival

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AACT presented the very first national AACT YouthFest as an integral part of the national festival of AACTFest 2017 in Rochester, Minnesota. During AACTFest, four youth theatres companies each performed early afternoon on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. All four again performed and were adjudicated on Saturday afternoon.  All Youth Festival performances were included in AACTFest 2017 registration. This proved to be an exciting new component to our AACTFest 2017 festival.

AACT YouthFest 2017 Companies

Clark Youth Theatre, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Snow Angel by David Lindsay-Abaire

"Snow Angel" graphicWhen the quiet town of Deerpoint is hit by the biggest blizzard in 107 years, a mysterious girl named Eva steps out of a snow bank and into the lives of 15 confused teenagers. Snow Angel is a funny and eerie tale of teen angst, discovery, and the power of believing.

Tuesday, June 27,  1:15 pm, Rochester Civic Theatre
Saturday, July 1, 1 pm, 1st show to perform

Clark Youth Theatre is Tulsa’s longest-running youth arts program, outside the public school system. The City of Tulsa turned a former Lutheran church into a youth theatre in 1978, and Clark operated as part of the Tulsa Park and Recreation Department for 36 seasons. In the summer of 2015, Clark Youth Theatre became a private entity, and continues to offer award-winning, quality programs to Tulsa and the surrounding area. Clark Youth Theatre offers a full season of main stage productions along with improv and acting classes, homeschool drama classes, and camps to those aged 8-18, from the beginner to the advanced student. []

The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company Youth Troupe, Rochester, Minnesota - Book Travelers by The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company

SkyVault Theatre imageChildren’s Troupe playwrights created a brand-new musical called Book Travelers, where young adventurers travel back in time and into the pages of children's books, to restore happy endings that were maliciously altered by an evil villain.

Thursday, June 29,  1:15 pm, Rochester Civic Theatre
Saturday, July 1, 1 pm, 3rd show to perform


The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company is a youth theatre organization that cultivates growth and creativity. It encourages youth involvement in every facet of operations. Students are involved in and consistently responsible for set design and construction; props and costumes; stage managing; sound and lighting design.  All members of this ensemble contribute to the theatre productions. Actors, students, teachers, audience members are all considered part of the ensemble that is creating and telling stories together. []

Venice Theatre's Outreach and Education Department, Venice, Florida -    I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Celeste Raspanti

"I Never Saw Another Butterfly" photoRaja, a child who survived Terezin, shares her story of living in the concentration camp, while retaining a world filled with butterflies and flowers with other children in the camp.

Wednesday June 28,  1:15 pm, Rochester Civic Theatre
Saturday, July 1, 1 pm, 2nd show to perform


Venice Theatre’s (VT) Education and Outreach Department operates year-round with daily classes—during and after school—summer and spring camps, conservatory training, technical apprenticeships accredited by the Florida Department of Education, college internships, and school partnerships.  Additionally, VT partners with various human services organizations, using arts training to improve life skills for youth and adults. []


Bill Anderson, Jr., Ron Cameron-Lewis, and Penelope Notter will adjudicate the AACT Youth Festival productions.

Bill AndersonBill Anderson, Jr. has been an avid volunteer for Center Stage Theatre in Midland, Michigan for 25 seasons.  He has worked in nearly every facet of community theatre including performing, stage management, lighting design, set design, and directing.  Bill’s list of directing credits include Avenue Q, Annie, Ragtime, Shrek, The 39 Steps, and a production of Urinetown that placed 2nd at the 2011 National AACTFest.  Most recently in AACT, Bill completed the adjudication workshop at the National Festival in Grand Rapids.  Bill has also served for the past eight years as an adjudicator for the Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association and their forensics tournaments and One-Act festivals. 

Sara PhoenixRon Cameron-Lewis is Professor Emeritus at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada where he helped establish the Music Theatre program in 1972.  He taught acting and directed productions at Sheridan College and a joint program with the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Sheridan graduates currently work throughout Canada, on Broadway, in the West End in London, and on international cruise ships. For AACT, he has worked as a theatre educator and adjudicator at State, Regional, National and International levels. He instructed adjudication training at AACTFest national festivals in Rochester, New York and Carmel, Indiana, plus many workshops at festivals around the USA. In 2016, Ron was re-elected to a second three-year term as a Member-at-Large on the AACT Board, serving on the Education, Adjudication, and International Committees.

Penelope NotterPenelope Notter served for many years as Associate Director and Director of Education for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre School of Theatre Arts. Productions of A Christmas Carol, Pinkalicious, and Hairspray are shining examples of her talent and love for theatre. She has over 150 professional productions to her credit and several Grand Rapids regional Grand Awards (Outstanding Direction (2) and Best Supporting Actress). Notter has been honored with AACT’s Distinguished Merit Award, and Community Theatre Association of Michigan’s (CTAM) prestigious Robert A. McKenna Community Theatre Achievement Award. Both honors recognize Notter for her contributions to community theatre. In 2015 Notter was inducted into AACT’s elite group of “Fellows,” the national organization's highest honor.

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