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Youth Arts Ambassadors introduce dinner theater

They’ll carry a tune and a tray, serve up songs and a meal.

In their quest to become multiskilled entertainers, the Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Arts Ambassadors are taking a more intimate approach to performance.

The first Youth Arts Ambassadors Live Onstage! Dinner Theater will cover the audience’s senses with a full dinner and entertainment from 22 middle and high school students at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at Ridgewood School.

Dinner, courtesy of Linardos Villa, will include salad, lasagna, dessert and a beverage.

The Youth Arts Ambassadors program is designed to teach youths a variety of theater experiences and this is part of that mission according to show producer and program co-director Krissy Hartman.

“This features a different setup and different skills for the kids to get,” she said. “In dinner theater, there’s a lot of focus on stage presence and how they present themselves. But they also get to be servers.”

As most of the cast have previous Ambassadors experience in shows like “Into the Woods” and “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.,” the performing isn’t the concern.

“I’m more nervous about serving. I’m afraid I’ll fall and spill stuff,” said Ambassador Ava Sullivan.

There are several new elements being introduced. Hartman, who directed the previous shows, has stepped back to allow Jimmy Straley the reins.

Straley has taught several workshops, but it’s his first time directing students and he’s reaching the young charges.

“Jimmy is right to the point,” said Ambassador Natalie Berry.

Kent Brooks is a consistent, returning as music director due to the kids’ comfort level with them. An active performer in the area, he always enjoys working with the Ambassadors due to their energy and enthusiasm.

“I love the education and stroking their creativity,” Brooks said. “It’s always fun when you see their a-ha moments.”

Other cast members will include Kirsten Abbey, Lauren Allen, Peter Bailey, Anna Bielawski, Kyla Collins, Tim Compston, Anna Deever, William Deever, Jen Hillard, Andrew Hunt, Eleni Linardos, Zane Mohler, Haley Money, Megan Nolan, Evie Oehlers, Morgan Reynolds, Jordan Rogers, Breah Weislak, Ian Williams and Kierstin Young.

Tickets for both performances can be purchased online at and will be available through April 26. Proceeds will benefit the Youth Arts Ambassadors and Ridgewood School.

Contact this contributing writer at

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