Welcome to TYA, “the Amazing place where all ages can explore the theater arts!”
My friend Bernie Markevitch was a gifted scenic painter and set designer. While working on a TYA set, he liked to say, “We make the Magic happen!”. We do just that by rolling up our sleeves, laughing routinely and rapturously sprinkling fairy dust. I hope you and yours have found magic and a home here with TYA.
Whatever your role: patron, donor, cast/crew member, musician, staff, fan, or parent volunteer who paints scenery, sews costumes, sings your heart out, focuses lights, sells tickets, distributes programs, calls cues, plays in the orchestra pit, sends money, or applauds enthusiastically, you are part of a dream come true.
I started TYA in 1989 as a pilot project with the play “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and a multigenerational cast at the UW-Sheboygan Fine Arts Theater. I raised the seed money of $900 from my friends and relatives. It was a sell-out! With the blessings of UWS Dean Barbara Losty, TYA became a selfsustaining community sponsored program of the UWS Theatre Department.
Stability gave TYA opportunity to grow and with that TYA became a nonprofit theater organization in 1996 with the mission “to educate children about themselves and the world around them thru theater” while serving school and family audiences of 6,000-8,000 annually here in Sheboygan county.
Over the past 32 years, I hope you have had the good fortune of participating in or attending one of our professionally staged Mainstage productions featuring award-winning and popular children’s dramatic literature along with Broadway musicals, our Storybook series which introduces little ones and their families to the joys of theater, our School Spring Tour for grades K-5, our Summer Parks and Playgrounds Tour, our Rising Stars Productions which offers youth in grades 5-12 training in all aspects of theater production, our Reader’s Theater, Kidz Amazing Circus!, Princess & Pirate Parties, Teddy Bear Picnic, parades, classes, workshops and now virtual programming!
Perhaps this happened to you…as TYA’s artistic director I would hear adults comment as they left the theater, “It went so fast.”, “I was so engrossed in the play, it just flew by!”, “I found myself crying.”, “I laughed so hard.” Then I knew that we of TYA were doing our job. It is a challenge to effectively produce plays that captivate both adults and children. TYA has earned a reputation in our community for providing the best for school and family audiences. That translates to award-winning dramatic literature along with exceptional attention to spectacle: set, lighting, props, costumes, make-up and movement; for child audiences understand a play by what they see, not by what they hear.
Looking back on my 27 years as TYA’s artistic director, I don’t have favorite productions. Perhaps like you, I loved them all for different reasons, from Broadway musicals such as “Annie”, to Newbery Award winners like “A Bridge to Terabithia”, and “Number the Stars”, to popular literature such as “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” and “The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe or DisneyKids “Aladdin”, and “The Junglebook”, to AATE award winners like “Wiley & the Hairy Man” or Charlotte B. Chorpenning Award winners like “The Land of the Dragon” and “Androcles & The Lion”. I am WONDER-FILLED and blessed with gratitude for all of the designers, directors, choreographers, musicians, technicians and gifted volunteers who lent their skills and artistry to TYA.
I am deeply grateful to our generous community which has supported TYA with funding, in-kind donations, time, talent, and housing. Housing has always been a deep concern. Storage is needed for supplies, tools, costumes, make-up, scenic & stage properties along with space for workshop areas, rehearsals, performances, tickets sales and office. Throughout the 32 years, TYA has called numerous locales home. In most cases we had 3-5 at a time! Once upon a time…TYA enjoyed a residency at UWS with all of the above. Other homes included my family’s basement and garage, the Sheboygan Masonic Mansion, the Weaver Building (now Central Bark) numerous garages, a leaky semi-trailer, 2 nd floor of the Rudnick Building, the EBCO Building, TYA’s Theater Factory (now Leadership Academy) plus our present space along with trouping to area libraries, the county fair, city parks, playgrounds, schools, JMKAC, Plymouth Arts Center. Bookworm Gardens, Christopher Farm and Gardens, and the Stefanie H. Weil Center for our performances.
Did you know that TYA staged the first play, “Ramona Quimby” at the Weil Center when the newly restored facility opened? As a local children’s theater company, it was an honor to be invited to perform there while bringing young families into that historical and spectacular landmark.
As TYA’s founder, I am very proud of our accomplishments. For 32 years, we have trained hundreds of casts and crews and entertained thousands of patrons with quality productions, while making the best of extremely inefficient housing arrangements. You can imagine how challenging it is to stage shows, teach classes and conduct the business of theater, while the office is in one locale, supplies, props, costumes, and scenery are in others, building and rehearsing are in another location, and one must traipse to yet another space to set up and perform.
Like many TYA devotees, sustainers and alumni, I will keep dreaming about TYA’s future. With stable housing and efficient operations, TYA can attract and retain trained theater professionals to provide quality programming for our participants and audiences for years to come.
Some of my happiest memories are the hundreds of hours I spent with my dear Mom Betty & Dad Emil working on sets & props when TYA was in its infancy. I close my eyes and see my Mom in her paintspattered “happy clothes” (that’s what she called them). She’s lining up all of Bernie Markevitch’s scenic brushes & paints. I can hear her telling my Dad, “Do it right, Emil! It’s for the children!”
We will Mom. I promise.
To Joy! To Beauty! To Laughter!