A large tap-dancing number and Chinese song lyrics are among the latest ways Clayton Youth Theater actors are challenging themselves on stage.
Those elements and more are in the group’s upcoming performance of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at The Clayton Center auditorium, 111 E. 2nd St. in downtown Clayton.
Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 24-25, July 30-31 and Aug. 1. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They’re available at the door, online at www.theclaytoncenter.com or over the phone at 919-553-1737.
Set in the early 1920s, the show centers on a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who goes to New York City with grand plans that go awry. Clayton Youth Theater describes the show as a “family-friendly musical comedy filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villianess that audiences will fall in love with.”
When she read the script, director Nikki Dyke thought the play would be fun. But she wasn’t sure her students were ready.
“There are a lot of challenges with this particular show,” Dyke said. “But the more I got to thinking about it and the students I anticipated would be auditioning, I thought, ‘I think we can do this.’”
“And I think it really has paid off,” she added.
One of the challenges is tap dancing, something CYT has never featured before in a show. Dyke said her choreographer has really helped showcase the students’ talents.
“We certainly have a core group of girls that have tap experience and are kind of carrying those numbers, but the fact that we are having non-tappers participating is pretty impressive,” Dyke said.
Some 30 students started rehearsing for the show when school let out for the summer. Dyke said they started practicing the choreographed numbers a little earlier in the process than usual.
Morgan Abdalla, who plays Millie, said out of the four shows she’s done with CYT, this is likely her favorite.
“It’s super high-energy, and the 1920s is probably my favorite period anyway,” Abdalla said. “So I’m having a lot of fun living in this era and playing Millie, being a flapper, being in a love triangle and meeting all these people.”
Dyke founded the troupe in 2007 to get area youth involved in theater. The Town of Clayton, the Johnston County Arts Council, N.C. Arts Council and the Johnston County Community Foundation provide part of the funding for the shows.
CYT also holds an annual “Christmas in July” shopping event to raise money for performances.
Students in grades 7-12 perform in the productions.
Nicholas Kraft, a rising sophomore at Clayton High, is performing with CYT for the first time.
While this isn’t his first foray into theater – he’s been performing since he was 5 – Kraft said he’s been taken back by how friendly everyone is.
“I’ve seen all their shows, so I know how good they are,” said Kraft, who is playing Jimmy Smith. “So it’s just been so much fun.”
Alexis Cox, a rising freshman at N.C. A&T State University, said she too has enjoyed the family-like environment. Cox, who is performing with CYT for the second time, plays Muzzy van Hossmere.
“It’s fun to see all this talent around you and be part of a big group that’s doing something that’s bigger than you,” Cox said.
If you go
Clayton Youth Theater will present “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at 7:30 p.m. on July 24-25, July 30-31 and Aug. 1 in The Clayton Center auditorium, 111 E. Second St.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They’re available at the door, online at www.theclaytoncenter.com or over the phone at 919-553-1737.