Studio East announced earlier this year that three of its new plays — “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “The Tempest” and “Little Red” — are coming to Eastside cities like Kirkland and Bellevue in the coming months.
“You’re a Good Man,” Charlie Brown” is based on Charles M. Schulz’s popular cartoon series. “The Tempest” is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s iconic play. And “Little Red,” a product of Studio East’s StoryBook Theater, is a youth-oriented musicalization of the “Little Red Riding Hood” tale.
Studio East, which was founded in 1992, is a nonprofit that focuses on providing arts education to young people living on the Eastside. Currently, it’s one of the biggest theaters of its kind in the Seattle area.
Ahead of the performances, Studio East collaborators spoke of their experiences with the organization.
According to Vincent Orduna, who is the outreach coordinator of Studio East and is choreographing and directing the “Charlie Brown” show, the group allows young people to develop their artistic skills early on. It can also provide outlets not otherwise offered in school.
“Arts are being phased out of schools for budgetary reasons that are focused on technology,” he said, adding, “Kids may not be able to access performing arts typically in schools. It’s great to have an organization like Studio East where they can here, meet that need and learn that skill…Get them young, and the love and desire grows.”
Noah Barr, who started working with Studio East 13 years ago, when he was 5, could attest to that. Since getting “the bug” from his older brother, who started with the organization when he was 7, he has participated, to his estimate, in 30 shows, spending around two months on each.
Barr is playing Charlie Brown in the upcoming show (he played Pig-Pen in 2011). He plans on pursuing music in college, though he did briefly consider professionally chasing after acting.
Barr said that even if you aren’t planning on engaging with the performing arts as a career, the skills you learn from Studio East — like public speaking and self-confidence — are invaluable.
He added that one of the things that he likes about Studio East is the high standards to which its youthful performers are held.
“The way that they work with people at Studio East is that they treat them like professionals,” Barr said. “They don’t treat you like kids; they hold you to a certain standard. And they treat you as if they’re training you to be professional actors, which I’ve always loved about it.”
Deonn Ritchie Hunt, who has worked with the theater for about two decades and has filled in actor, director and teacher roles over the years, appreciates how Studio East supports not just its youths but also art-inclined working moms like herself.
“I really can’t say enough about what a positive company this is,” Hunt, who will be playing “Granny” in “Little Red,” said.
“Charlie Brown” will be in Kirkland Jan. 31-Feb. 9; “Little Red” in Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, Shoreline and Fremont from Feb. 1-March 21; and “The Tempest” in Kirkland from Feb. 28-March 1. More information on tickets can be found on the Studio East website (www.studio-east.org).