Peanuts production to be inclusive

COSTA MESA — Debora Wondercheck knows that all the world's a stage and children who are trained in theater production have a special advantage.

"When children have to get up in front of their peers and give a book report, they're not afraid," said Wondercheck, executive director of the Arts and Learning Conservatory. "Learning to memorize lines, stage timing, working with a vocal coach and all the things we do create a foundation for public speaking."

The nonprofit organization, which holds youth workshops and year-round programs in acting and theater production, will hold a placement audition for children age 9 and older on Saturday for its fall full-scale production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

"The goal is to place everyone in some shape or form into the production," Wondercheck said.

"Charlie Brown" was chosen because it has a diverse range of main and supporting roles, and additional opportunities in singing, dancing and stagecraft and design.

"We're working on a production that is at their level, but the performance is at a much higher level of quality than you normally expect seeing at something like a school play," Wondercheck said.

This is because as part of a theater production workshop, the children will work with professional directors, voice coaches, choreographers and stage and costume designers.

Among the other workshops beginning next week are a theater production workshop for "Alice in Wonderland" and "Exploratory Arts: Aesop's Fables," both for children 5 to 8 years old, and group voice class for children 8 and older.

"We really work these kids," Wondercheck said. "Of course, the workshops are designed to be fun, but [the children] are being directed by leading industry professionals."

The conservatory has only been open for seven years, but already a few of the past students have gone forward to excel in school, become theater majors and begin careers in commercials and entertainment.

"We're the ones that take kids with little or no talent and we build them up," Wondercheck said. "And we take a lot pride in it."

If You Go:

What: Placement auditions for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, theater production workshop

When: Auditions will be held on the first day at 9 a.m., Sept. 1. Workshop classes will be 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and 4: 30 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays through Nov. 11.

Where: The Learning and Arts Conservatory on the Vanguard University campus, 2599, Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa.

Cost: $390

For information and payment: (714) 728-7100

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