Expanded focus leads to new name for local theatre group

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

North Star Family Theatre, currently presenting “Shrek the Musical,” is the group previously known as Youth Theatre Workshop.

The name change for the 12-year-old organization, which produced 26 shows as YTW, is a more accurate depiction of its expanded scope, said play director Eileen Anderson.

Eileen Anderson welcomed the audience at the Saturday performance of "Shrek." (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Eileen Anderson welcomed the audience at the Saturday performance of “Shrek.” (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“Although (YTW) was started with youth participation and child-filled audiences in mind,” Anderson explained, “it has become apparent that area families are looking for activities that include everyone. As the years progressed, we have produced shows that included all ages of actors. When you couple this with the volunteer opportunities that we offer, it is, indeed, a family activity.”

Several years ago, Russ Brandjord, an actor and current board of directors member, began calling YTW his “theatre family” and the term caught on, said Anderson. Branjord and his family all participate in productions, as do many families involved. In 2012, a group of 77 members vacationed together in Florida while performing at Disney World.

A child played a mouse in a 2013 Youth Theatre Workshop play. The North Star Family Theatre will continue to include lots of kids in its productions.

A child played a mouse in a 2013 Youth Theatre Workshop play. The North Star Family Theatre will continue to include lots of kids in its productions.

While many youth organizations, such as sports and music, have kids participating and parents watching, the NSFT is “unique,” said Anderson, as parents participate with their children. Another reason for the name change was that, as the group formulated an expansion plan, they realized they had not been a “workshop” since the first year.

NSFT will continue to produce shows, while adding a performing arts academy to help hone skills through classes and workshops. They’ve already started a performing arts conservatory, with 25 students, 11th grade through college, mentored so far in all aspects of theatre production, Anderson said.

“Shrek” opened last weekend, and will conclude with performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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