my information

--- Issued June 9, 2011

Fifty young HACE residents, acting in, and building sets for a recent production of “The Magical Land of Oz,” may very well have had their lives changed by the experience.

Thirty-five comprised the cast; another 15 helped cast members fabricate sets, props and costumes. All were in the YMCA theater group, with lessons revolving around props and sets.

"There’s not much better preparation for the real world than the world of make-believe and acting," judging from the way young Erie Housing Authority residents put their hearts into the April 28 and 29 YMCA Kids Club stage production at East High School, said Cherie Kinem, director of YMCA Housing Authority programs.

The 50 children involved in this production “learned to be passionate about something,” says Kinem. “There’s nothing better than helping kids find their passion – something they are good at and like to do.

"For some, it was the acting and vocals. For others, it was the building of the sets and the making of costumes.

" These kids did things they never dreamed of doing before – carpentry, sewing, sculpting, acting – things they may want to do throughout their lives.”

For photos that tell the story, see this Spring's News & Views

Fast Facts:

  • It took three months to create all the sets and props for Oz.
  • Practices were held three times a week, for two to three hours each time, between Feb. 1 and April 28.
  • The horse in Oz began as an inflatable zebra, filled with air at a Country Fair. Then Art Club members covered it with paper mache’.
  • Three performances were held, one on April 28 and two on April 29. The April 28 performance drew an audience of 275, the biggest ever for a YMCA Theater Group -- the group’s first musical..
  • Performed by the YMCA Youth Theater Group, the cast came from the John E. Horan Garden Apartments and the Erie Heights/Pineview YMCA Kids Clubs.
  • The play was produced at no cost to the families. It was partially funded by a $5,000 grant from the Erie Community Foundation and the rest of the funding, about $7,000, came from the Erie Housing Authority which funds the YMCA Art Club.