News Column

Budding stars hone their theater craft during summer

July 24, 2014

By s David Bitton, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

July 24--Some area youth are spending their summer riding bicycles and playing in backyard sprinklers, while others are indoors playing video games for the umpteenth hour.

Not these teens: Andrew Hayes, Peyton Hathaway and Mackenna Hathaway have been busy helping others in the performing arts world hone their acting skills, all while learning their lines for an upcoming performance at The Acting Company.

"This is what I want to do in the summer," Hayes said. "It is a privilege."

At 14, Hayes has been in more than 30 plays, including at least 20 at The Acting Company.

The Marysville youth, who will play Tom Sawyer in the play "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," which is set to open Aug. 29, is busy learning to do a cartwheel and watching "Forrest Gump" so he can learn to speak with a Southern accent. "It takes a big commitment to do this well," Hayes said. "I'm really excited to see myself do a cartwheel."

"I started acting because I was jealous my sister was acting at The Acting Company," Hayes said.

At 4 years old, Hayes was cast as "Shark 3" in a play he can't recall.

His favorite role came in 2012 when he played Stinkerbell in the production, "It's a Wonderful Neverland."

"I had a funny part and I got to make people laugh," Hayes said.

"I love to hear from friends that come to the show that I'm a whole different person," Hayes said. "That's great because it means I'm doing it right."

Peyton, who is hitting the stage in his first acting role, will play Sawyer's barefoot sidekick Huck Finn.

In the four years the 16-year-old Yuba City youth has been volunteering at The Acting Company, he has been a stage manager for "Charlotte's Web," and has worked as a lighting technician on six or seven shows.

Carmen Smith, theater manager at The Acting Company, who also runs the Summer Theater Workshop, has worked closely with Peyton and said he is a creative guy who is skilled both behind the scenes and on stage.

Peyton's favorite memory was running the lights during "Fiddler on the Roof."

"It definitely improved my ability to run the lights," Peyton said. "It was one of those shows I could watch over and over and not zone out."

He enjoys spending his summer on the stage and said the only thing that occasionally gets in the way is his job.

"I love doing theater stuff," Peyton said. "It is a lot of fun."

His younger sister, Mackenna, 14, also enjoys theater and has been performing since she was little.

She's done more than 10 plays at The Acting Company and said her favorite roles were as Beth March in "Little Women," and Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web."

She enjoyed "Little Women" because it was a musical but said her favorite part of acting is impacting people and making them cry.

"Having adults still crying and shaking my hand after a performance is pretty awesome," Mackenna said.

Earlier this summer, Mackenna, Peyton and Hayes helped Smith as she ran a two-week summer acting camp aimed at helping area youth hone their acting skills through improvisational games, monologues and scenes from "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

"All of the girls in the Summer Theater Workshop took turns sitting on her (Mackenna's) lap. They wanted to be near her," Smith said.

Many of those who participated in the acting camp went on to be cast in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

Six weeks of rehearsals begin Monday and these three teens are exactly where they want to be.

"I've made a lot of friends down here," Mackenna said.

Happenings at The Acting Company

Plays going on at The Acting Company include the performance of "The Trip to Bountiful," which is running through Aug. 10 with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

"Princess 101," a Magic Theater Production, has shows Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. starting this weekend and running through Aug. 9.

Also happening on Saturdays in August are two classes aimed at helping 6- to 16-year-olds learn about lighting, sound, and running things backstage.

More information can be found at


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Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)

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