Summer Theater Club puts on 'Cinderella'

Three afternoons a week in the summertime as Mary King goes about her daily business, she is surrounded by laughter, music and singing wafting up from the unfinished basement of her home.

Three afternoons a week in the summertime as Mary King goes about her daily business, she is surrounded by laughter, music and singing wafting up from the unfinished basement of her home.

The basement holds nine to 10 unseen high school kids spending their summer together with only a radio and their imaginations. They've behaved this way for the past couple of years.

Spending time together in the basement isn't just about hanging out together and having a good time, although that's what keeps bringing them back to the basement each afternoon. The group is the Summer Theater Club, and it's working on this year's production of a modified version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella."

Each year the club puts on a musical that the members choose, practice and produce themselves.

The Summer Theater Club is a bunch of kids from around the city who just love to sing and dance, said Anna King, the club's director and founder.


King, who has just finished her freshman year of high school, formed the club with a group of her friends during the summer after she finished the sixth grade.

She just went to her mother and said she wanted to do a theater production with her friends, said Mary King, Anna's mother.

They spent two-thirds of that first summer working on "Once Upon A Mattress," and they did everything for it. They found and purchased the music, found the hall and costumes, taught themselves the lines and songs and made their own scenery, Mary King said.

"It still surprises me that they want to spend this much time on it," said Mary King, who added that she only supplies the rehearsal space, programs and sometimes snacks.

The group has done a play each summer for the past four years, performing at a different location each year as space and scheduling allows. Each summer the group takes a donation at the door and gives all its earnings to the American Cancer Society.

"I think that we all or at least most of us ... have known someone who's suffered from cancer," said Anna King, who also plays a step-sister in this summer's performance.

The group members don't need the money anyway, and people will be more giving to the Cancer Society that way, said Samantha Youderin, who plays Cinderella.

Each year, more people come to the performances. The first year the group raised $450, the second year $650 and last year $1,020, Anna King said.


After "Once Upon A Mattress," the second year the group performed "Annie" and last year it performed "A Star-Studded Night," an original screen play by Anna King.

The group has a bit of a following, and each year people ask the members if they are doing another play.

After each performance the group evaluates how much good it's doing for the Cancer Society, and whether or not another play will fit into the next summer's schedule, Anna King said.

"As far as enjoyment, ... I think we'd do it forever," she said.

This year's production of "Cinderella" will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle, 1515 W. Superior St. With extras and a sound man, the production will be performed by about 15 young people.

Anna King said she decided on "Cinderella" because she enjoyed its songs and the play would be fun for both the actors and its audience.

The play has been modified a little to fit the club, which contains mostly women, she said.

The musical is fun and upbeat and the costumes are pretty good, too, said Barbara Kahn-Lesley, who plays the prince's assistant, usually a man's role.


"The parts are definitely different then the classical 'Cinderella' roles," she said.

The club's members have learned a lot about practice and teamwork, Anna King said.

They have also seen their singing and acting abilities improve and have gained confidence from producing the plays themselves and acting them in front of an audience, she said.

"Looking back at (past performances on video tape) we just kind of laugh at them," she said.

Mary King has also enjoyed the opportunity to see the group's members grow in their abilities and maturity levels as she listens to them rehearse.

"It's neat to see kids using their creativity and their talents and their abilities and see them really doing something good for the community with that," she said. "(It's) kind of fun to hear them improve."

The Summer Theater Club presents "Cinderella"

7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16


Duluth Gospel Tabernacle, 1515 W. Superior St.

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