Dogwood Summer Youth Theater 2019
By Katie Clark
Photos by Chelsea Webb
Walking backstage of Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts, props for the upcoming Summer Youth Theater presentation are scattered around. As I look them over, Marianne Boegeter, Dogwood’s Executive Director, laughs as I point out the plastic hotdogs among the old fashioned fake food items. “I don’t know what hotdogs have to do with Tom Sawyer,” she states. “You’ll have to ask Chelsea and Casey Webb about that!”
The Dogwood is located just outside of Fremont proper, off of West 48th street (which really is a continuation of West Main street in downtown Fremont). It is beautiful, easily accessible facility that rivals any of those found in larger cities.Every May finds this facility buzzing with preparation for the upcoming summer’s performance.
Sitting down with the sisters in the Green Room about a half hour before the cast and crew would arrive they shared a bit about the program.
“We make sure to choose plays that can support a lot of character parts as well is fun for our actors and recognizable to our community audience,” stated Chelsea Webb, long-time co-director. “We don’t like to turn away any young person who wants to be a part of our production.”
Last summer they had their largest cast at 60 actors and created little vignettes that fit with the play during set changes to make sure everyone had a part.
According to the sisters the program has been generally a one family show when it comes to the behind the scenes work.
“Our mom and dad were big fans of the theater and when a family friend who had started the summer program had to focus on his college classes, our family jumped in and has been swimming with it ever sense.”
Chelsea, just 19 at the time, became the director along with her mom as assistant. Casey, 15 years old or so at that point, acted in the productions but has now taken on the main director role from her sister. Their dad’s handywork has been in the set design and prop building right from the start, and he continues to love the work. The three brothers have acted, directed, and worked backstage on and off for the past 15 years.
We finished our interview just as practice was about to start. The backstage was already bustling with actors (ages 12-18), Webb family members, and volunteers who help make the show a possibility.
The Webb family have been in this for so long that they know just what needs doing. This is a really high-quality production that is free for the audience to attend.
Each year a grant request is submitted for the upcoming play. The grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation covers the cost of the production (costumes, props, setting, and part-time pay for the director) as well as a DVD copy of one of the formal performances given to each cast member as a memento.
“We have really supportive families, so many help out however they can; many cast members return again and again until they hit the age limit.”
I had to ask one last question before I left; what about the hotdogs? Chelsea and Casey give a sly look to each other. Casey smirks, “That started out with our brother who would secretly add in a mannequin head-you know, the kind cosmetologist use to practice-somewhere on set during a performance. It was something that only we cast members knew about-an inside joke.
“Our family has a lot of fun while we do this every summer together, and we’ve kept this tradition alive, although we’ve ditched the head.”
So, come to this summer’s production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on either Friday, July 26th or Saturday, July 27th at 7:30pm. Admission is totally free.
You can keep your eyes open for the fake hotdogs and get a little giggle right along with the cast.
Donations are welcomed the night of the play. Concessions are offered for purchase during the intermission.
For more info:
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman