COLUMBIA — After spending nearly a month of their summers in rehearsals, the students of TRYPS Children’s Theater are set to begin the Theater’s 11th season Thursday night. The musical "Footloose" is scheduled for this week and "Annie, Jr." for next week at Rock Bridge High School.
TRYPS executive artistic director Jill Womack oversaw the cast of “Annie, Jr.” as they rehearsed Thursday afternoon. The students practiced the musical in fast-forward and said lines, practiced positions and gestured with exaggerated speed. Most were barefoot or in socks, reasoning that shoes might slow them down. Exercises like this help the students, ranging from third grade up to eighth grade, maintain high energy in their acting and pay extra attention to their cues, Womack said.
“Footloose” will be performed from Thursday, July 8, through Sunday, July 11. “Annie, Jr.” will be performed from Thursday, July 15, through Sunday, July 18. Shows start at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Tickets are $7 each, $3 lap seats for children under 2. Advance tickets can be purchased at all Columbia Hy-Vee and Callaway Bank locations, Commerce Bank on Bernadette Drive and Landmark Bank downtown on Broadway.
There are many learning experiences incorporated into TRYPS. Students carry laundry baskets to help them keep track of props, water bottles and other items they need for rehearsals. Womack said the baskets are part of an exercise she calls “making yourself organized.”
TRYPS directors work to give students as much experience as possible. They added a scene and speaking part to “Annie, Jr.” to showcase talented actors, and redesigned the scenes to keep actors onstage performing instead of backstage waiting for cues.
“I like to make sure that every child has a moment to shine on stage,” Womack said.
Even with the economy hurting many arts programs, Womack has managed to avoid cutting performances. Instead, she has chosen plays and stage design to allow more props to overlap.
For instance, both musicals this summer use the same platforms and costumes that were reused from previous plays or pulled right from the actors’ own closets, she said.
"I've designed smarter," she said.