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Something wicked comes to Schultz

Youth Theatre's 'Book Machine' stars heroes, witches and science nerds

By Coree Reuter -- Daily correspondent

NEW MARKET -- Beanie Boren, a science wiz not keen on reading, has designed a book reading machine for his science fair. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctions and brings the witches from "Snow White," "The Wizard of Oz," and "Hansel and Gretel" to life.

In "Beanie and the Bamboozling Book Machine," the latest play by Schultz Theatre's Youth Theatre, Beanie recruits help from the heroes of those stories in order to send the witches back where they belong.

The production, by Bob May, Christopher Tibbetts and Roy C. Booth, is based on an original story written by May. Yvonne Owens is director of Schultz's youth program in New Market.

"The whole premise is getting those witches back into the book machine," said Owens. "Book world goes into chaos because the characters are missing. The characters work together to get the witches back into book world. It goes a mile a minute and it is lots of fun."

Fifteen youth performers are involved in the production, and they range from ages 6 to 15. The youth theater program has been part of the Schultz Theatre since it opened its doors a little over a year ago.

"Originally, Michael Gwin, the theater director, was going to direct everything, but I love working with children; I'm a teacher, and working with kids is my passion, so being in charge of the youth theater is a no-brainer," said Owens. "We're a big family, we add new people every play, and have several that have been in multiple productions. It's a joy to watch them grow and become better at what they love to do."

After their current production is finished, the youth theater will be putting on "Peter and the Wolf," then "The Insulting Princess." Owens said the theater is always looking for new actors and actresses and that she won't turn anyone away.

"Theater is an important place for a lot of these kids, and if they can't make auditions or miss auditions, they should just contact me. The more kids the better. It's fun and it's a place to be connected. I don't want anyone to miss out on a chance," she said.

Owens got her start in theater as a youth. Her first role was as a blind girl in "Helen Keller," and she has been passionate about the arts ever since. She studied drama at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, where she met her husband, and apprenticed at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. She has taught drama at every age level, and currently teaches drama classes at Schultz.

"The most important part [about youth theater] is that they find a connection at the theater they don't find elsewhere," said Owens. "We see a lot of kids that come in that may not be the best athlete or best student, and they find a connection in the theater because they find out they're not alone in being different. They learn to read better, it helps them academically with their reading and public speaking. They gain confidence from being on stage and being successful and accepted."

If you go
• "Beanie and the Bamboozling Book Machine"
• Schultz Theatre, at 9357 N. Congress St., New Market
• Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
• Adult tickets are $8 and youth tickets are $6.
• For more information about the play or the Youth Theatre, go to www.shultztheatre.com or email Yvonne Owens at yvonnewns@gmail.com.

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