ANGELICA SAARIO, GWYNETH DOEBBELING, JUSTIN VAUGHT

ANGELICA SAARIO, GWYNETH DOEBBELING, JUSTIN VAUGHT

Three Ahwatukee thespians are part of Valley Youth Theatre’s fourth production in its 31st season, “The Princess and the Pea.”

The show opens Friday, Feb. 7, for a three-weekend run at Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N. 1st Street, in downtown Phoenix.

This marks the sixth time VYT produced this play, with the first in 1992, and the most recent in 2013.

But there’s a reason VYT keeps going back to the production, according to Bobb Cooper, the company’s producing artistic and director of the latest iteration of “Princess.”

“Everyone loves a princess and, in this story, there are five,” he said “Each one of these princesses is very diverse in their attitude, appearance and approach to life - much like the young actors who portray them,” Cooper said, adding:

“We’re really quite proud of the fact the social, cultural and economic diversity of this city is so well represented in this – and every – VYT cast.”

The play is based on a Hans Christian Andersen story in which a prince must go on a journey and find a bride. If  he comes up short, he has to go back to his palace and wait for one to show up.

Among the local thespians in the cast is Gwyneth Doebbeling, who plays the prince’s mother, Old Queen Maude.

Gwyneth, 14, is an eighth-grader at Kyrene Altadena Middle School, in Ahwatukee, where she plays cello in the orchestra. This is her first VYT show, but it is not her first appearance on a stage.

She appeared in Childsplay’s “As You Like It” and two other Shakespeare plays, including a performance as Lady Macbeth in “Macbeth.”

She also was in a production by Childplay’s Youth Ensemble Theatre and in her school’s production of “Sound of Music.” She also enjoys playing piano, poetry, baking and hiking.

Two Desert Vista High School students also are in the production.

Angelica Saario, a 15-year-old sophomore, plays Princess Stella. This also is her first VYT production.

She also has performed in several has performed in Childsplay productions as well as two presented by Act One Youth Theater. 

She enjoys yoga, working out and choreographing gymnastics floor routines. Angelica hopes to pursue a career as an actress.

Desert Vista senior Justin Vaught, 18, plays Donald Dunce. He is a member of VY Teens and this is his 15th appearance in a Valley Youth Theatre production.

Justin is not only a veteran actor for Valley Youth Theatre but also at the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, Desert Vista Thunder Theatre and Plan B Entertainment, where he played Gavroche in “Les Misérables.”

The final dress rehearsal for “Princess” will be tomorrow, Feb. 6, with a performance for Hopekids and their families. The nonprofit helps families with a child facing a life-threatening disease.

The 13 performances this month include four daytime shows designated for school field trips.

Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at vyt.com.

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