An astounding 54 kids have a part in this year’s “Peter Pan Jr.” production at Marathon Community Theatre. SYDNEY SCHUHMACHER/Keys Weekly

By Sydney Schuhmacher 

On Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, at 7 p.m., the Marathon Community Theatre (MCT) Children’s Summer Theatre Program will present “Peter Pan Jr.” This summer marks the program’s eighth year, where kids ages 6 through 18 can learn everything about theater, on the stage and behind the scenes. The 54 young actors in “Peter Pan Jr.” represent all ages (some even turning 6 during the rehearsals). They are assembled by co-directors Jamie Stevens, a first-time director at MCT, and Kara Pascucci, a familiar face on and off the stage. Pascucci has been a part of the Children’s Summer Theatre Program from the beginning and has been in many local productions, including “9-to-5,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Rumors,” “The Last Five Years” and “One Weekend Only.” 

Playing Peter Pan is Ria Rodriguez, a fourth-year participant. “I love learning new things,” Rodriguez said. “I love being able to push myself, whether it was last year when I was the dragon in ‘Shrek Jr., the Musical’ or the year before when I was the witch in ‘Into The Woods Jr.,’ it’s always something different and its always something challenging.”

The Children’s Summer Theatre Program was born eight year ago thanks to Kristeen Teague who brought in her experience with kids’ theater camps and tailored it for Marathon. She has since left for the mainland, but her influence lives on with productions such as “Into The Woods Jr.,” “Willy Wonka Jr.,” “The Marathon Cheese Police” and “Shrek Jr., the Musical.” 

Devin Clarke was a pillar at MCT and with his departure from Marathon last year, Stevens jumped at the chance to lend a hand. “My daughter Abbigail was involved in the program last year and with Devin leaving, Kara needed a little helper here,” she said. 

Pascucci immediately interrupted her humble words and said, “I needed another co-director!” which is no small feat. 

Stevens is the owner and an instructor at Key Dance Academy. As a dancer she has performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as well at a Pro Bowl half-time show in Hawaii, so she brings a lot to the MCT team.  

Pascucci said the summer program for kids continues to grow every year. 

“We’ve had more and more kids every year, but this year we’ve had a significantly higher number of kids,” she said. “For next year’s program we may be looking at some different options on how to accommodate that many children in a way that is meaningful and true to the program. And to make sure everyone is having a good time!” 

Tickets for “Peter Pan Jr.” are $10 and can be purchased online at www.marathontheater.org, by calling the Marathon Community Theatre at 305-743-0994, or visiting the box office at 5101 Overseas Hwy.

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