SIKESTON - Anyone traveling by the Sikeston Little Theater may have noticed that the theater's new youth production of the "Pirates of Penzance" begins this weekend. They may also have noticed that instead of a number to call to purchase tickets to the play, there are only two words: sold out.
Since its opening, the Sikeston Little Theater has transformed their annual children's plays into major youth productions. The "Pirates of Penzance," which opens Thursday, is no exception.
The recent youth productions have been some of the most popular plays in the history of the new theater. The youth productions of "Annie" and "Romeo and Juliet" sold out every night, a feat rarely accomplished by adult productions of dramas or comedies. This year's "Pirates of Penzance" was sold out two weeks ago.
"Some people at the theater are saying that's a record," said Jennifer Chessor, the director of "Annie" and "Romeo and Juliet." "We just try not to make the youth productions something that only parents and grandparents of the youth acting in the play will enjoy, but instead something enjoyable for anyone who wants to come and enjoy good theater."
"We are very impressed with the children's plays and Jennifer's work," said Carrie Yanson, Little Theater Board president. "Our goal was to expose kids to all different aspects of theater and it has worked great. It has been very exciting to see these kids grow."
The new production consists of 48 young people ranging from third graders to seniors in high school.
Chessor admits it is not easy to direct a professional play with so many kids, especially with the younger ones.
"Once they hit about 6th grade they act like professionals," said Chessor, "but until that age it's a trip."
Although it may be difficult, Chessor would have it no other way.
"I have acted and I have directed productions with older actors, but I love this," said Chessor. "It is so much fun seeing kids enjoy theater."
Chessor has faith in the abilities of her young actors. Contrary to most children's plays, Chessor doesn't rely on parental help during play practice.
"We have purposely kept the parents at a distance so they can sit back and enjoy the progress their children have made," said Chessor.
And what is a professional play without a professional set?
John and Teresa Fisk, who have painting and constructed magnificent houses and trees for past productions, have once again constructed the set.
"We asked them to construct a simple set," said Chessor. "They took it and made it amazing."