Oz small group

Rehearsing a scene from the Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln's upcoming production of "The Wizard of Oz" are (from left), Zach Stevens (Tin Man) , Audrey Haugen (Toto), Delaney Baker (Scarecrow), Hailey Truell (Dorothy), and Avery Kirkland (Lion).


Parents of students in the Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln (YAAL) hope the theatre troupe’s new home is a permanent setting.

It certainly will be for the next four years.

The nonprofit signed a four-year lease and moved in early September to 1233 Libra Drive, where it occupies part of a large southwest Lincoln building anchored by Stephanie and Bob Chase's dance studio, now called Chase the Spirit of Dance. YAAL will showcase its new space next weekend with five public performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Larger location

“The building we were in (south of 56th and Old Cheney Road) got sold in October of last year, so we needed a new location,” said Amanda Brown, president of the YAAL board of directors. “This is much bigger … it’s better for our rehearsals and has a lot more seating,” said Brown.

The new location seats 150 for its performances, whose schedule opens at 7 p.m. Friday (Dec. 15) with a stage adaptation of the legendary classic fantasy/adventure film of 1939. Additional performances are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 and at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17.

Hailey Truell, a sixth-grade student at Pound Middle School, has the lead role as Dorothy and leads a 27-member cast. Nate Mares, former drama department instructor at Lincoln East High School, directs the iconic American musical fantasy.

Busy schedule

Brown, a mother of two YAAL members, said the new venue is the setting for an ambitious yearly calendar that includes four major performances, preceded by eight weeks of rehearsals for each show. YAAL also hosts summer camps and a schedule of year-round classes that calls for more sessions beginning in January. Improvisational classes were recently held at the new location.

YAAL currently serves ages 7 to 14. Brown said the troupe hopes to attract a cadre of high school students.

Brown said YAAL operates through the existence of several revenue streams, including participation fees, donations, and grants.

“We also provide need-based scholarships, pending available funds,” said Brown. “We welcome all kids who are interested in the theater experience."

About the show

“The Wizard of Oz” tickets may be purchased at www.yaal.org. Day-of-show tickets may be sold pending availability. Seating is general admission.

Cast director for the show is Kresse Alvey; musical director, Katie Frankferter.

The building housing YAAL and Chase the Spirit of Dance is located about two blocks south of Lincoln Southwest High School and behind (west of) the the Fox Neighborhood Bar & Grill.

A close look at the new Chase the Spirit of Dance studio will appear in a future edition of the Neighborhood Extra.


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