Davenport Junior Theater is a place for theater kids to refine their acting skills and join a tight knit community.
Junior Theater is held in the Annie Wittenmyer Complex in Davenport, Iowa and is run by Daniel Sheridan, the artistic director.
Every year, Junior Theater puts on lots of shows. Many productions are plays however it has started to do musicals in recent years.
People who participate in the theater can be in mainstage plays, the crew, Showtime Pal, or take acting classes.
“Showtime Pal is our mascot. He or she is an actor who puts on a costume and informs the audience of rules and such before shows,” Sydney Rosebrough said.
While anyone can join Junior Theater’s acting classes and plays, there is a price. The mainstage plays cost $75 to be a part of after the auditions. Depending on the type of acting class the price varies from $180 and upward.
The acting classes mainly take place in the summer. Kids 6 to 13 can go to a class for two to four days. They are sorted into groups by age, write their own plays based on the theme of that week, and perform them on the last day.
“The themes range from cities like Japan and Hollywood, time periods like Ancient Greece, to topics like sailing the seven seas and fairytale frolic,” Emma Brandel said.
Teenagers older than 13 can assist a director in leading a class. Being a part of these classes can give teenagers volunteering hours that could potentially be used for scholarship purposes.
While the actors put on the shows, the people backstage are just as important. The crew does anything from moving sets pieces on stage, to controlling lights and sound.
“The crew is incredibly important because the show just wouldn’t flow without them. They make sure we get the set we need and it gets placed on time,” Emily Arndt said. “They fill in for sick actors, pump the actors up, and make fun cameos. They deserve more recognition from the audience.”
The theater is now in progress of a renovation for the first time since 1978. The people at Junior Theater are looking forward to seeing the new parts of the building.
“We’ve almost doubled our set goal and received extra funds from Davenport Parks and Rec, which led to the opportunity to start a project fund,” Brandel said. “We will definitely put this money to use after this major renovation.”
The staff members, regular volunteers, and actors have created an inclusive atmosphere to anyone who choses to join Junior Theater.
“They’ve made it their home,” Brandel said. “The people I’ve met there aren’t my friends, they’re my family.”