A local youth theater is set to conduct auditions next week for a play based on a hit children's show.

Valley Youth Theatre of Phoenix (VYT) will host auditions for "Dora the Explorer Live! Dora's Pirate Adventure" Aug. 16-17 at 3:30 p.m. The audition is open to children ages 7 to 19 and there is no fee to participate.

"The plot (of the show) is essentially based on the television show," producing artistic director Bobb Cooper said. "It's Dora, Diego and Boots (the monkey) going on a pirate adventure."

This production of "Dora's Pirate Adventure" is a first for VYT. Since the play is based on the television show, the specifics about the show are already predetermined.

"It's a licensed show so we are working through Nickelodeon," Cooper explained. "They're very specific about what you can and cannot do with the production - in terms of colors and costumes - so we are keeping (the play) as true to the original as possible."

Cooper also gave recommendations for those wanting to audition. Interested individuals should have a song prepared, with sheet music or a CD to act as accompaniment. Additionally, students should bring a photograph of themselves - "a snapshot is fine," said Cooper - and a résumé if they have it. Finally, the children should be prepared to do a cold reading of the script.

There are more positive effects from participating in the play than having an outlet to act. Tammy Lynn McConahay, director of marketing and communications at VYT, pointed out the scholarship program as an incentive for students to participate.

"All of the students that are in the play or involved in tech, which includes lights, sound, stage, get $300 per show toward college," she said. "When they graduate from high school, they get that money for college."

Additionally, the scholarship does not limit itself to one time only. Each time an individual participates in a play, they receive $300, for a total possible scholarship of $3,000.

VYT alum speak for the success the theater has in developing talent in young thespians. Cooper points out a few examples of the alum that have become celebrities: Jordin Sparks of "American Idol" fame and Emma Stone of "Easy A" are two examples.

"Our mission is to inspire them to be the best they can be by giving the best training possible," Cooper said. "This theater is a great opportunity to work with the best and to help them as performers and people."

"Dora's Pirate Adventure" will run Oct. 7-23, with shows on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at noon and 3:30 p.m., and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $20. Valley Youth Theatre is located at 525 N. First Street in downtown Phoenix. For more information, call (602) 253-8188 or visit www.vyt.com.

Anna Gunderson is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a freshman at Arizona State University.

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