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TYPA ready to return to the stage
TYPA is staging Mulan Jr. with Ashley Pannell as Mulan and Katelyn Madsen as Mu Shu. Shows are set for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal



It wasn’t very long ago that the future of the Turlock Youth Performing Arts was in serious jeopardy, but now, thanks to an active board and dedicated parents, volunteers, and young performers, the curtain will once again rise for the organization.

TYPA is returning to the stage with a production of “Mulan Jr.,” which opens Friday and runs through Sunday. This is the first musical TYPA has been able to bring to the stage since the 2015 production of “Guys and Dolls.” The non-profit organization found itself facing increased expenses at a time when revenues were dropping. But now a new board of directors has been able to turn the tables and is looking forward to several seasons to come of future TYPA shows.

“It feels really good to be back,” said Amber Traini, a long-time TYPA coordinator and current choreographer for “Mulan.” “The kids in our community need and deserve this.”

For more than a decade TYPA has been staging musicals that showcase the talents of area youth. Each show is mounted by the efforts of a director, musical director, and choreographer — some playing double duty — and a host of volunteers who have helped with everything from set building to costume design. But as TYPA’s original young actors have grown up and aged out of the program, those volunteers that were so integral to the process disappeared as well.

However, a revitalization effort is proving successful. The organization, spearheaded by the new board, took a year to engage in a fundraising campaign and began offering mini Broadway courses to help offset production costs. The result has allowed them to produce “Mulan” for the junior acting troupe and the upcoming “Bring It On” for the senior troupe.

“I would say about 75 percent of our group is now from new families,” said Board member Jane Cluff. “It creates a new atmosphere for us, with greater flexibility and understanding of what we need to do.”

“These people want this opportunity for kids in Turlock and they are willing to do what it takes to make it happen,” said Lisette Sims, the director and musical director for “Mulan.”

For 12-year-old Ashley Pannell, who plays Mulan, a chance to be in a TYPA production was a golden opportunity for the budding actress.

“I had done plays and musicals at school, but this is more advanced — more distinguished,” Pannell said. “It’s been a really awesome experience.”

“Mulan Jr.” shows are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. All shows are at the Turlock Community Theatre. Tickets will be available at the door for $10.

“Bring It On” auditions for the senior troupe, which includes incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors, will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday or Tuesday at Turlock Community Theatre. Those auditioning should prepare a one minute song to sing. The show will be in early August.