The very intimate setting of the Phoenix Performing Arts Centre theatre, an environment that has worked so well in other places for productions of BETM, will host a regional production of Billy Elliot The Musical from May 12-27, 2017.
The Phoenix Performing Arts Centre (PAC) opened in Duryea, Pennsylvania in 2008. It was the dream of founder and current Artistic Director Lee LaChette. She and a group of supporters took a building that previously had held a theatre and rebuilt it, calling it Phoenix (rising from the ashes). Starting slowly with straight plays (until we got our footing, says Lee), it has evolved today into an entity that produces an average of nine musical theatre productions per season.
Its primary focus is the mentoring of kids and teens, giving them the opportunity to learn about and experience all aspects of musical theatre. The productions range from all youth shows to a few productions each season featuring a mix of adults and kids, to give the latter different experiences and adult mentors to look up to. This season’s production of BETM is one with a youth/adult mix of cast. But all productions at Phoenix PAC, be they done entirely with a youth cast or those with a mixed youth/adult cast, are full length shows — no Jr. productions. Lee says “I believe in being different and doing shows outside the box. Our kids do full length productions (no Juniors) and handle them with ease”.
Phoenix PAC also does three week Summer camps each year — with two separate musical theatre productions (one for kids 9-13 and one for teens 14-17) as the core of the three week experience. Each production is built from scratch and presented to an audience at the end of the camp. This summer’s productions will be Frozen (9-13 yr olds) and Wicked (14-17 yr olds).
Some of the past “traditional” productions at Phoenix have included Cabaret, Rent, American Idiot, Jekyll and Hyde, Spamalot, and The Sound of Music. The group, operating “outside the box”, has also done a production of Seussical using puppets in which the kids, instead of being the characters, had to act them out through the puppets. The theatre has also staged a dance adaptation of Edward Sissorhands.
Their production of BETM will feature a youth/adult mix of cast and is being presented by a cast of 33, led by a boy debuting in the role of Billy, Tylor Berrini.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Phoenix PAC cast, just click on the Cast Information button.
Note: Production photos in this article by Paul Buholski