Youth theater program to perform 'Emperor's New Clothes' musical

Cary Ashby • Feb 3, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Jen Libertowski said she is thankful for “a quality arts program for children right in Norwalk.”

Her daughters, Katelyn, 9, and Leah, 7, have been involved with Curtain Call Children’s Theatre for two years. 

“My girls fell in love with live theater,” the Wakeman mother said. “Jill (Wheeler) does a great job on introducing them to musical theater in a fun, inclusive environment. Her energy and patience amaze me. She works with each child to cast them in a role they will feel most comfortable with and they have fun the entire time.”

In her classes, Wheeler said she tries to teach her students to not be afraid of failure, learn confidence — especially when it comes to self-identity — and conquering public speaking at a young age. Also, she emphasizes accepting the talents that everyone has.

“(I) focus on what they’re good at and not what they’re bad at. They find their niche,” said Wheeler, who attempts to “feed” students with their strengths. “I will feed it until they think they’re good at it.”

The upcoming Curtain Call production is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Leading up to the one-time performance is a 14-week youth theater program for children ages 6 to 18. Practices are once a week — Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

“We only have 16 more openings,” Wheeler said.

Classes start Monday. Children can sign up through Feb. 11.

Libertowski’s daughters were asked what they love most about Curtain Call.

“Everybody gets a good part,” Katelyn said.

“I like making new friends with my castmates,” her younger sister added.

For this musical version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Wheeler has added several new roles: Two uneducated, “Southern-hick maids;” two princesses who constantly are attempting to outdo each other, an extra swindler and a down-to-earth prince.

And of course, there’s “the king who’s crazy about his clothes,” said Wheeler, who wrote about 20 of the 25 songs.

Norwalk resident Erin Brown shared how much her 10-year-old daughter Lauren has learned through her Curtain Call experience. She has been involved in the program since she was 6.

“Through her experience she has gained self confidence, amazing social skills, (the) ability to speak publicly and great memorization skills. With Jill’s ‘everyone gets a part’ dynamic, it helps kids who may be shy at first come out of their shell and showcase their talent,” Brown said.

Lauren Brown has been in six Curtain Call shows.

“My daughter has met many friends through other school systems, which I think is important and not easy to do in a small town at this age. The tools she has learned under Jill’s direction have stayed with her. She enjoys seeing other musicals because of her knowledge of theater and knowing what it takes to put on a successful show helps her appreciate them even more. We are grateful for Jill’s talent and her passion to share it with our children,” the mother said.

Other parents have witnessed their children learn self-confidence, discipline, choreography and perfect their acting skills — all while having fun.

Melissa Carr, of Perkins Township, said her daughter has requested more demanding roles in her five years with Curtain Call.

Marilyn Dillon said her granddaughter, Elizabeth Weisenberger, has taken to theater “like a duck to water.”

“The first play I remember Elizabeth being in was about a snow day when the students had to spend the night at the school and what they did to pass the time away. I was so impressed that she not (only) learned her lines, but sang songs and learned basic moves when acting in a play,” Dillon said. “Elizabeth had such a great time preforming that she was willing to do it again and again.”

Casting for “The Emperor’s New Clothes” starts soon. For more information, call Jill Wheeler at 419-541-1713 or sign up online at www.ccptheatre.com

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