Kids and parents alike know the stress of being a teenager. There’s academics, sports, arts, and a social life — not to mention molding all that together for college applications or professional resumes. Amy Love of the new Santa Barbara youth performance company, Lights Up! Theatre, knows first-hand these challenges. After a performance and production career in New York and L.A., as well as raising kids of her own and teaching theater throughout Santa Barbara, Love understands the time constraints of kids’ lives. Through Lights Up!, she has developed a learning and performance environment that allows teens to experience acting and production without missing out on their school-based activities. “We rehearse on the weekends,” said Love, “so kids who are in sports, or kids who otherwise don’t have the availability to be in their school production, still get the chance to be on stage.”
Their upcoming production of the musical Big Fish is ramping up to be a stage spectacular, with 26 student actors, dancing elephants, a mermaid, an actor being shot out of a cannon, and a live orchestra. Love chose to produce Big Fish after seeing it in New York: “There was something magical about it,” she said. “It’s about the power of dreams, of inspiration.” Love calls Big Fish a “touching musical comedy that features a lovely father-son relationship that goes quite deep.”
Lights Up! also gives student actors the chance to experience a big musical from both sides of the curtain. “Sunday at rehearsal, we’ll have a costume shop and a prop shop running. Kids, when they’re not onstage, can go down and build or stich things.” Love said. “We provide an opportunity for them to work alongside our professionals to learn those skills.”
Parents and volunteers also get involved, creating a supportive community atmosphere. Love encourages families to come to the show, calling it a fun, colorful play that’s appropriate for children.
4•1•1 | Big Fish runs April 24, 26, and 27 at the Marjorie Luke Theater, 721 E. Cota St. Call 884-4087 or see luketheatre.org.