When the curtain rises for the Bellevue Youth Theatre's production of "Miracle on 34th Street" this month, it will mark the 20th anniversary of a program that has offered thousands of residents an opportunity to shine on stage.
"Miracle," at Meydenbauer Theatre (11100 NE Sixth St.) the weekend of Nov. 26-28, reflects the inclusivity that has been a hallmark of the BYT, with a diverse cast of 63 actors that includes older adults and five people living with disabilities.
"Everyone who auditions gets a part" has been the mantra at the BYT ever since it was established at the Crossroads Community Center in 1990. While most of the theater’s players are middle- and high-school students, people with disabilities, families and senior citizens are encouraged to participate.
The BYT has steadily grown, with 10 productions each year as well as summer and school-break day camps and theater classes. The BYT Foundation is raising money for construction of a new facility because the theater has outgrown its current location on Northup Way.
"Miracle" offers evidence of the theater’s roots, with the lead roles of Fred and Doris played by Boeing engineer Travis Reisner and second-grade teacher Barbara Bauman, who played those roles for the BYT before, when they were teens. (Reisner is a captain in the Army reserves, soon to be deployed in Iraq.)
James Peck, who was disabled in a car accident at age 17, testifies to the theater's inclusivity, taking the stage for the first time since before the accident, when he was a theater buff in high school. Peck, 40, says the BYT has helped him "regain something I thought was lost forever."
Peck and several other members of the show are featured in a new Bellevue Television video commemorating the BYT’s 20th Anniversary. .
Tickets are $10 per reserved seat. Call 425-452-7155 or e-mail BYT@bellevuewa.gov.
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