Gabrielle Ingram, left, Isabella Bowens, Victoria Whalen, Brooke Rodgers, Grace Haselden, Mattie Matthews and Emily Sielewicki receive instruction from Jay Españo during a Youth Works Academy Acting Master Class in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Kara Cuthairo

With cuts in programs at schools, Theater Works is hoping students and their families will embrace a new academy geared toward the performing arts.

Theater Works launched YWA, Youth Works Academy, which will provide classes for children ages 3 and up in disciplines of dance, drama, music, puppetry, script writing and more.

Athena Hunting, Theater Works youth program manager, said YWA has been a part of a strategic plan since last year.

“It’s been long awaited, and we hope that it not only serves the youth in the community but that the public schools take hold as well,” Hunting said.

Hunting said children will learn many skill sets during the sessions with the help of an experienced instructor.

“Every kid wants to work with a pro, and there’s no better way than being mentored by a professional,” Hunting said.

For example, professional actor Jay Españo is teaching master classes for eight weeks.

Españo, who started his career in Singapore, will star in Theater Works upcoming production of “The King and I.”

Hunting said the training from YWA could be placed on their theater resumes if they’re auditioning for a show.

“Directors are always looking for special skills and talents for their shows, and these classes help with just that,” she said.

In addition to local schools, Theater Works Artistic Director Robyn Allen said they hope to reach out to home-schooled children.

“We want to provide an enriching and exciting opportunity for kids to really enhance their lives with the arts,” Allen said.

For information about YWA, including times, prices and class schedules, reach Hunting at 623-815-1791 or visit www.theaterworks.org.

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