2023/24 YouthStage Parent/Student Guide

So your child wants to be in a show! Amazing! But how much do you actually know about the title and its content? Or perhaps you are very familiar with the show, but have a hard time seeing how it will be molded appropriately for students of a certain grade range. We want to help! Parenting is different for everyone, and we want to keep that ball in your court, but we also understand that having a little extra support is sometimes helpful. Therefore, we have taken the liberty of creating a handy guide for our 2024 YouthStage lineup. Our goal is to provide you with more information and guidance to help you make informed choices you're comfortable with for your child and prepare you for what to expect when your student actor starts learning a show.

—Melissa Rivera Simpson
Producing Director of Education & Mainstage

Starmites (High School Edition)

KidStage (Grades 5-8)
Performs April 13-21, 2024

Starmites is an original musical by Barry Keating and Stuart Ross. It premiered on Broadway in 1989 and was nominated for six Tony Awards. Although the show was not a financial success, it went on to have its own mini cult following. The story centers around a high school-aged girl named Eleanor who is sucked into "Innerspace". Although the show is heavily set in a science fiction comic book world, the angsty belt tunes, costumes, and choreography clearly give the show the energy of the late 90s-early 2000s! Think Percy Jackson meets Six meets boy bands! The dance battles resemble Power Ranger choreography and the music is a mix of rock/pop, rap, and gospel. This show has several large roles and many solo opportunities. Themes of female empowerment, individual resilience, and group determination are intricately woven throughout this epic plotline. This is a great title for youths of all grades as it does not contain any language or heavy problematic narratives, yet still empowers actors to tap into the edgy characters they love to portray.

You can read  The Guide to Musical Theater  for more detailed information about the plot and show structure.

The soundtrack can be accessed  here .

We also highly recommend watching the McCallum Fine Arts Academy production from 2019 on  YouTube  performed by high school student actors. 

We'd like to highlight the following time markers:
"Afraid of the Dark" - 26:24
"Ravenous" - 30:23
"Diva"- 35:07
"Reach Right Down" - 1:27:54

Rent (School Edition)

TeenStage (Grades 9-12)
Performs April 27 - May 5, 2024

Content Warning: This musical contains themes of sex, drug addiction, death, homelessness, and mild language.

Rent is a 1996 pop-rock musical (or rock opera) by the late Jonathan Larson loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's 1896 Italian opera La bohème. The libretto is completely sung through in the Classical opera style with the exception of a few lines of dialogue. Rent tells the story of a group of young artists struggling to live in New York City during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The entire show takes place in the span of 1 year (or as the song says, 525,600 minutes), and focuses on the importance of friendship, love, and community. It addresses topics related to love regardless of sexual orientation, nonconformity, and surviving while being poor in a city with neighborhoods changing via gentrification. Some characters are shown buying and selling drugs and going through withdrawals. However, the scenes do not glorify their actions, but rather shed light on the societal problem and how it negatively affects relationships. The biggest difference between the MainStage version and the YouthStage version is that the school edition omits the ensemble number "Contact". The themes remain the same; they transcend generations and inspire audiences to "forget regret" and love in the moment, because there is "no day but today."

Mean Girls (High School Edition)

YouthStage Spotlight Show (Grades 8-12)
Performs July 13-21, 2024

Mean Girls High School Edition is based on the cult classic 2004 movie by Tina Fey starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. A female student enrolls at a new school and is quickly swept up by the clique hierarchy that dictates every aspect of teenage social life. This satire explores relational aggression among teenage girls with truth and humor. In the end, all students learn from their mistakes and begin to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual. The original Broadway script does not sugarcoat the language and actions of modern teenage behavior. Although our production will still feature most of the aspects of the original Broadway show, we specifically chose to produce the high school version so that the script could be easily (and legally) modified to better suit the Berkeley Playhouse community. The show contains crude jokes for comedic effect, sexual references, marijuana use references, underage drinking, name calling and bullying, and comic violence. Although many of the themes are mature in nature, we understand that struggles with belonging and insecurities are very much present in the lives of all our teenagers. This show attempts to cast a light on these issues with a comedic lens to make the harshness of adolescence more palatable. We hope this production will help audiences explore this societal dynamic and be inspired to avoid the pitfalls of cattiness and bullying.

**This is our Youthstage Spotlight Show, therefore not all students who audition will be cast. Only students currently in grades 8-12 will be considered for this title.**

Freaky Friday The Musical

YouthStage (Grades 5-12)
Performs July 25 - August 3, 2024

Freaky Friday the Musical is loosely based on the popular 2003 movie starring Lindsay Lohan (Yes, another Lindsay Lohan movie) By the power of a magical antique hourglass, an angsty teenage girl and her overworked mother accidentally swap bodies forcing them to navigate wedding planning, career strategies, a budding crush, and social dilemmas for each other. Many of their disagreements and frustrations are driven by underlying issues of familial loss, changes within the nuclear family unit, and high school social dynamics. But despite the tension between several of the characters, there is a lot of love that influences their choices and ultimately helps everyone understand and appreciate one another. This is yet another show that highlights themes of resilience, teamwork, and female empowerment. If your student likes contemporary musical theater, they will love the belty and powerful songs in this show!