Forest Grove's local community theater's upcoming show casts 10- to 16-year-olds and opens March 1.

STAFF PHOTO: JANAE EASLON - Lucas Bledsoe (center) plays Stuart Little, Aliya Lamb plays Mrs. Little and Jesse Uffelman plays Mr. Little in Theatre in the Grove's all youth cast of 'Stuart Little,' opening March 1. Theatre in the Grove might be a small playhouse, but its shows are by no means "little."

But for its fourth show of the season, the company is presenting a recognizable Little with the children's classic book turned play, "Stuart Little."

Directed by Forest Grove resident Tanja Crouch, the cast is entirely students ages 10 to 16.

Playing the titular role is 10-year-old Lucas Bledsoe, who has never been in a show before.

"He has a lot of raw talent, and it has been so fun to watch him grow," Crouch said. "He's learning really well."

Crouch said her main goal is that she wants to teach the cast how to be in a professional theater setting, because many, like Bledsoe, have not experienced being on stage before.

"Stuart Little" tells the comedic tale of a family, the Littles, looking to adopt another child but instead taking in an orphaned mouse, who quickly becomes a part of the unconventional family. Set in the 1930s, the play is an hour-long, fast-paced and geared toward introducing young groups to the flow of a production, Crouch said.

"I wanted to keep the set simple, because this is all about how the actors are interpreting the story, and for them, it is easiest to do in a simple format," Crouch said. "I thought this was a great opportunity to get what it is like to be here and to have experience. This theater has such a great children's program. During the summer, regardless of where you are set financially, and parents not being able to afford to send their kids to summer camps, Theatre in the Grove has C.A.S.T. Camps where kids can sign up, be a part of shows, and it is all free."

Because funding for the arts has been cut back in many school systems, not only is Crouch excited for students to be acting, she is excited for students to come out and see the show.

Not only will the cast be performing for the public, but they will be performing for school groups, such as at Banks Elementary School, she said.

"This goes back to that feeling of what it was like to be a kid," Crouch said. "Things would go right, things would go wrong, there is friendship — and you can see that in the comradery the cast has built. For me, coming to see this show is a reminder of what it is like to be young."

Performances are March 1, March 2 and March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 and March 10 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors (60 and over) and youths (17 and under).

The box office is open on Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before each performance.

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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