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Youth actors prepare for opening night of Cinderella
TYPA pic1
The dressing room for Turlock Youth Performing Arts production of Disneys Cinderella was a bevy of activity as volunteers helped the cast get into character, including Hanna Mangrum and Ainslie Coughran, who play mice in the show. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

With less than two hours before the curtain rises on Turlock Youth Performing Arts production of “Disney’s Cinderella,” the activity behind the scenes is at a monumental level.

Crew members are checking the lights and sound and making sure all the props are in place while in the dressing rooms a host of volunteers are helping the cast with their costumes, hair and make-up. And through it all, the 40-plus kids who will be taking the stage are attempting to keep their nerves at bay and their enthusiasm up.

“The nerves are definitely building up,” said Andrew Cheesman, an eighth grader at Hilmar Middle School who is playing the role of the Grand Duke. “But we’ve practiced a lot and I feel confident we’re going to have a great show.”

Sharing the feeling that a great performance is in their future is Pitman freshman Eliana Roberts, who portrays Anastasia.

“I’m pumped up,” Roberts said. “I’m excited to go out there and do what I love to do.”

The journey to this opening night began back in December when more than 100 kids showed up at two auditions with the hope of landing a role in TYPA’s latest production. The list of prospective cast members and stars dwindled after each audition and subsequent callbacks, but by the third week of January Director Chris Green and Choreographer Amber Traini had settled on the cast and all the roles they would fill and were ready to start rehearsals.

“They have been an excellent cast to work with from the very beginning,” Green said. “I am very confident they are going to put on an excellent show.”

For some of the cast Friday marks the first time they will take the stage with an audience watching. For others, stepping on stage is like seeing a familiar and friendly face and for these stage veterans the advice they offer for the novices in the troupe is simple and to the point.

“Don’t be afraid,” advises 11-year-old Jill Friesen, who has been in several plays and musicals and makes up part of “Cinderella’s” ensemble. “Just go out there and do what you’re supposed to do and have fun.”

The troupe will be performing Disney’s musical spin on the classic fairy tale four times before the curtain fall for the last time on Sunday.

“I’m going to be sad when it ends because I’ll miss seeing everybody,” Cheesman said. “I’ll definitely try-out for another show because this is such fun. I like TYPA. It’s good at building confidence and helping you meet new people.”

The remaining performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Turlock Community Theatre at 1574 E. Canal Drive. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door.