Jr. Civic and YAP Programs Foster Community and Creativity

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May/June 2024

For over eight decades, the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre has cultivated young talent and built community through its youth programming. Civic’s Anne Beck and Brent Marty shared some highlights of the upcoming summer shows, emphasizing the purpose behind the Youth Artists Program (YAP) and Jr. Civic.

These programs are designed to provide young performers with valuable training and performance opportunities, fostering not only their artistic skills but also a sense of community and collaboration. Through engaging productions and comprehensive educational experiences, Civic Theatre continues to nurture the next generation of artists while strengthening the cultural fabric of the community.


Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s Young Artists Program (YAP) presents “REVUE!” High school students from across Central Indiana will present a showcase of scenes, dance, solo, trios, and small group numbers for an evening full of fun, cabaret-style entertainment!

In addition, YAP is pleased to present the all-singing, all-dancing Tony-winning musical spectacular, “CATS”!

“CATS” takes place in a larger-than-life junkyard playground filled with purr-fect felines like Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy, Skimbleshanks and Grizabella. On the special night of the Jellicle Ball, the Jellicle Cats come out to play and tell their stories to Old Deuteronomy, their wise leader, who will choose one cat to ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new Jellicle life.

YAP coordinator, director and choreographer Anne Beck shared her thoughts on the two YAP performances coming up this summer.

“YAP does ‘REVUE!’ every year, which is a cabaret, and it’s one night only on June 24,and ‘CATS’ will be at the end of July,” Beck said. “I feel like we had a big surge in all these kids wanting to come through this program. It is unlike the other [programs] in that they get classes for an hour before the rehearsals. So, it’s become a conservatory while performing shows at the same time. We put our feelers out in the area on what show the kids wanted to do this year, and ‘CATS’ just kept coming up. I think it has a lot to do with the imaginative storytellers that these high schoolers are. We had about 86 kids audition, and we ended up taking 30 from 14 different high schools. Brent [Marty] loves the music as much as I do, and he is our music supervisor, and Jennie Kistner [from Zionsville] is vocal directing. Our team is very excited!”

Jr. Civic and YAP Programs

For those who may not know, Beck’s national tour performing credits include “CATS.” She performed with Ken Page in NYC, the original “Old Deuteronomy,” and she worked with director Jacob Brent, who was “Mr. Mistoffelees” in the video production of “CATS,” filmed in 1998.

“I learned all of the ins and outs of the story, [which is] based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems, from them [Page and Brent],” Beck stated. “The through line is kind of minimal. Sometimes, people think of it as a storytelling of all these cats. There’s this overlying theme of acceptance, and you’re allowed to make mistakes, and you can move on from that. That’s more of the positive, whole-theme story I’m trying to push with our high school program this summer.”


Director of Music & Education Brent Marty shared his excitement for the upcoming Jr. Civic show, “FINDING NEMO JR.”

Jr. Civic and YAP Programs

“I’ve got 40 kids, and we’re doing minimal costuming on this one and using a projection package for the scenery,” Marty said. “This is my 24th [Jr. Civic] production. I’ve done it every year since I started. ‘Finding Nemo’ is a popular title … people know it. It’s not a musical, so they’ve taken this movie, and it’s actually a musical at the Disney World theme park and that’s what the script is based on. It’s been fleshed out more for this [Civic] Jr. version, but it’s the same characters you know and love. It’s also blended with some elements of ‘Finding Dory.’”

Jr. Civic and YAP Programs

Marty continued, “It’s dealing with a lot of heavy themes when you think about it: first day of school, getting acclimated and finding new friends, Dory’s memory loss, the single parent who’s incredibly concerned about his kid because he has a little fin, and how it all plays into the adventure that they all go on. Things that you might not think of when you’re thinking of ‘Finding Nemo,’ but they’re there and we’re addressing them. So, you’re not only going to enjoy the show, but you’ll have a little education and an empathetic hour at the theater.”

For more information on YAP and Jr. Civic and to buy tickets to one or all of these shows, visit civictheatre.org.