Providing opportunities for young people to explore theater and have the chance to perform has become a collaborative effort of The Theater School and Sonoma Arts Live. Local teens are able to rehearse at the school and use the Rotary Stage in Andrews Hall of the Sonoma Community Center for plays such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Carrie the Musical, and the inaugural 2014 production of Rent. Jaime Love wanted to create “a program that immersed them in the craft of theater.”

EMMA! A Pop Musical

Cast of ‘EMMA! A Pop Musical’ (2017). Photo by Miller Oberlin.

Starting with a check-in before rehearsal, the group is framed with gracious and honest social interaction; Teens n’ Training encourages a supportive atmosphere. “The most important element of my teaching and directing is safety and trust between the ensemble and adults working together” explains Libby Oberlin, Education Director for Sonoma Arts Live / Teens ‘n Training and owner of The Theater School, a sentiment which she learned during her own experiences as a teenager studying the craft.

Auditions are welcome from around the Bay Area, they have had applicants from Napa and further afield, not just Sonoma County. Rather than standing awkwardly in front of a panel, attempting to perform a monologue, the Teens ‘n Training audition process involves fun theater games, more like a casual class. “I know how scary even the word ‘audition’ can be, so I hope that doesn’t sway anyone from trying out” Oberlin encourages.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Cast of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ (2016). Photo by Miller Oberlin.

This year’s production is Peter and the Starcatcher, a re-imagined prequel to Peter Pan with ludicrous plot and chaotic, entertaining characters. With a strong ensemble theme, Oberlin describes it as being “fast paced, hilarious, but also…a beautiful message.”

The cast has been rehearsing four times a week since early January, and will be presenting their production March 8-18 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday. For further information on Peter and the Starcatcher and upcoming performance opportunities, visit the Teens ‘n Training website.