Spearheaded by Laurel Walker, who is serving as its executive director, Pumphouse Junior is a division of the local community theater group, The Pumphouse Players Inc. For the Bartow native, the Pumphouse Junior’s first offering is helping lay the groundwork for a thriving program for youth ages 5 to 18.
“I’ve lived here my entire life,” Walker said. “When I was younger, my family really didn’t have a lot of money, so participating in some of the other artistic endeavors [was not an option]. ... So I really felt led to help create a service so we could have a wider variety of children that are able to participate. The mission of Pumphouse Players is to afford any willing individual the opportunity to participate in a dramatic art, and I feel that Pumphouse Junior is an extension of that mission to children.
“Right now we are just focusing on putting on quality productions while allowing as many children as possible to participate. ... I really feel like this is a great first step to building a really good program that can provide a service for a lot of kids in the community. We’re spending a lot of time trying to focus on what we can do. Our short-term goals are, of course, to focus on the productions that we are doing and try to make them as good quality as possible and help the kids see the importance of the art. Then our long-term goals are to find out more ways that we can serve the children and the parents and the families of our community, see what is being asked for, ask the kids what they would like to do and what they’re interested in and try to build a full year-round program for kids to be involved in.”
Along with “A Little Princess,” the Pumphouse Junior’s 2013-2014 season will consist of “Willabella Witch’s Last Spell,” “Round the World Tales” and “Henry and Ramona.” With its offerings and audition schedules posted on www.pumphousejunior.weebly.com, the group also is conducting Pumphouse Playdate at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St. in Cartersville, Fridays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The song and dance program for parents and their infants and toddlers costs $5 per family.
Presented at The Legion Theatre, “A Little Princess” will be performed June 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. and June 30 at 4 p.m. Directed by Katy Gramling, the production features a cast of more than 20 youth, with some of the lead characters being portrayed by the following, Christy Gessner as Sara Crewe, Delaney Smith as Ermengarde, Caleb Silvers as Captain Crewe and Carrisford, Ashton Haney as Lascar Ram Dass, Annika Hampton as Miss Minchin and Jody Jamerson as Cook.
“I’m going to college for theater because I found I loved it,” said Gramling, a 2013 Cass High School graduate. “And directing for kids is always such an interesting thing because you can watch them grow and become better actors or techies, because we actually have kids doing the lighting and we have boys moving the stage pieces. So it’s basically a kid-run show.
“... It’s based off the 1905 [Frances Hodgson] Burnett book but it is a one-act [play]. So it is slightly different from the book. So it’s still the same storyline as the book, which Sara starts off as a rich girl and then finds out her father died. She doesn’t have anything left so she has to become a servant. Then later through the play, her father’s best friend comes and finds her and basically adopts her and takes her away from Miss Minchin’s place that’s been terrible.”
General admission tickets for the upcoming show cost $10 and can be purchased online at www.pumphousejunior.weebly.com or www.pumphouseplayers.com.