The prospect of stepping onstage Sunday for a matinee at Embassy Theatre didn't fill middle school student Megan Schwartz with anxiety.
The soon-to-be seventh grader – who months earlier performed at the historic venue in a Fort Wayne Youtheatre production – instead helped her castmates ease their nerves with breathing exercises.
For many of the 22 performers, the half-hour show marked their first performance on the Embassy stage. They presented an original production to an audience of friends and family after only three weeks of preparation as part of SCORE!, a musical theater workshop for students in grades six, seven and eight.
“She probably got rid of, like, half the anxiety for everyone today,” an unidentified cast member said of Schwartz during a Q-and-A session with the audience afterward.
Now in its ninth year, the Embassy Theatre program collaborated with Fort Wayne Youtheatre. This helped both organizations strengthen their goals to grow education programming and to build upon an existing partnership, according to a news release.
“A program like this is a challenge because we are helping youth discover their own creative voices and create work based on that,” said Todd Espeland, Fort Wayne Youtheatre executive/artistic director. “It is challenging work, but it is so rewarding to help youth embrace their creative potential.”
Participants developed the script, song lyrics, music and choreography, said Maggie Hunter, Embassy education manager.
“So, they created the show, plus they did the business end of what we do in the theater,” Hunter said.
The show – titled “I Can't Hear You” – embraced a theme about using your voice.
The adolescents, who acted on a stage sparse with sets and props, ended the performance in song.
“I will be seen,” they sang. “I will be heard. I will be the change that I want for the world.”
Schwartz, who attends Blackhawk Christian, said she participated in the program because of the writing element and opportunity to grow as an actress.
“I want to get more comfortable on a big stage like this,” she added.
Participant Elisha Brown shared during the Q-and-A that his aspirations have shifted from film director to screenwriting because he has ideas he wants to share.
“I really don't want to be the one to say them,” Brown said. “I just want to see how other people can interpret what I'm saying.”