2006-07-19 / Entertainment

Theatre presents musical starring young talent

by JILL SCHMELZER Reporter

The Academy of Theatre Arts will present "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at its newly renovated space July 20, 21, 22 and 23.

The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. each night and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23 at 5505 Main St. in Williamsville.

The academy has formerly been a place of learning only. Owner Dina Slawson would teach classes in the studio and rent out available space for performances.

The space has been renovated and turned into a theatre, which seats 135 and can hold full cast ensembles for musicals such as "Joseph." "The theatre is intimate," Slawson said.

The stage is 840 square feet.

"A small theatre was important to us so we can connect with the audience," she added. "We are so excited about having a venue right in the Village (of Williamsville)."

The cast consists of 27 area teenagers from Amherst, Clarence and surrounding communities. The lead, Steve Bendanz, who plays Joseph, is formerly of Amherst. He now attends New York University for musical theatre.

There is also a children's chorus consisting of 40 youths, featuring 12 in each performance.

"It allows amazing young talent to perform their talents for the community," Slawson said.

Closed auditions were held for academy students.

"The people involved are both loyal and dedicated," Slawson said. "We showcase the talents we have."

The academy teaches about 150 youths each year.

The theatre will host musical and dramatic venues.

"It's a dream come true," said Slawson. "I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world to be able to share my dream with the community."

e-mail: JSchmelzer@beenews.com

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