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Youth Drama for All celebrates 10 years with new show in Mtn. View


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Youth Drama for All students learn choreography for their new production, “Planet Fizz,” scheduled to debut Sunday at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

Although Youth Drama for All sprang from humble beginnings with an audience of 20 in a local living room, the inclusive theater troupe is scheduled to perform its 10th production Sunday at the 600-seat Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

The nonprofit Youth Drama for All aims to bridge the communities of general-education and special-needs students with theatrical performances featuring a cross section of students.

The group emphasizes students’ abilities rather than their disabilities. The script is adapted to the needs of the group and individuals. For example, students who are nonverbal, visually or hearing impaired or with mobility challenges have the opportunity to star in the showcase. Each actor brings his or her unique talents to the role.

“Our mission is to build a special-needs community, and it is the special moments that keep us going,” co-founder Sue Voiss said.

On challenging days, Voiss and fellow co-founder Stacy Rade- macher said students’ enthusiasm and infectious happiness keeps the productions rolling.

Voiss and Rademacher put much time and effort into each year’s show, writing a script designed to spotlight each student’s talents.

Rather than holding auditions, student actors are asked to indicate their top three role choices, whether they want lines and whether they want to dance in one of the musical numbers – affording all of actors the opportunity to shine on stage in roles they’ll embrace.

‘Planet Fizz’

This year’s show, “Planet Fizz,” invites students to revisit their favorite roles from previous Youth Drama for All productions.

The show features a space alien tour guide who takes the audience on a journey to different planets, highlighting a variety of story lines and characters from past productions.

Previous productions include “Belle, Her Sister and the Beast,” “Journey to Oz,” “Hollywood Awards,” “Do It Grand!” “New York, New York,” “Adventures in Wonderland,” “Charlie,” “Toy Life” and “Hair Gel.”

This year’s production stars 41 actors from Los Altos and Palo Alto schools. The show also integrates high school volunteers and volunteers from Stanford University’s Kids with Dreams program.

“As we are doing this play, I realized some of the people who have been around a long time might remember, but we made it current enough for the new audience to understand and enjoy,” Voiss said.

Through the years

“Planet Fizz” celebrates Youth Drama for All’s 10th anniversary. Their first year, Voiss and Rade- macher created a play specifically for their daughters to star in. The production featured a cast of 10 and was staged with PVC pipe curtains in Voiss’ living room.

After a successful debut, Voiss and Rademacher collaborated with local elementary schools to bring their productions to life in various multipurpose rooms. When the popularity of the productions outgrew the facilities, Youth Drama for All performed at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto.

This year Voiss and Rade- macher searched for a more flexible venue and were thrilled when they landed the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

“It’s a very exciting step up,” Voiss said. “It’s a 600-seat theater, and we went in recognizing we won’t get 600 audience members per show, but we hope to attract even more people this year.”

“Planet Fizz” is scheduled 1:30 and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students under 21.

For tickets, visit mvcpa.com or stop by the Center for the Performing Arts box office (no fees) noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information, visit ydfadrama.org.

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