Rapunzel Untangled

Stage One offers children acting opportunities

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 12:00 am


Observer staff writer

From a modernized Shakespeare play to acting games, a new theater organization is aiming to make live entertainment a part of family life and a place to learn.

Stage One Theatre, which held auditions for its first play in early June, is bringing two productions to Rio Rancho this week and next. The organization is in the process of getting nonprofit status, and several of its board of directors members are from Rio Rancho.

Stage One President Warren Wilgus said he started Stage One to provide live theater that children and adults could enjoy in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque’s West Side. No one else consistently provides theater in the immediate area or targets all ages at the same time, he said.

“From an audience standpoint, even back in the Great Depression, movie houses still did very well,” he said. “There’s always a need for entertainment. There’s alw

ays a need to touch the soul.”

Wilgus said live theater is valuable because modern electronics create a disconnection between people.

“There’s a need for human interaction, regardless of how mechanical and desensitized we as a society become,” he said.

Wilgus plans to pick plays that range from classic to contemporary but that never have a rating above PG-13. He also wants Stage One to give back to the community through free plays or with other efforts.

“Yes, our goal is to do theater; yes, our goal is to provide active entertainment, but our goal is also to be active in the community,” Wilgus said.

Raised in Corrales, Wilgus started performing in a choir as “a nerdy, clumsy, awkward little boy” in elementary school and eventually moved into acting. He found the environment to be welcoming and nurturing.

At age 21, he directed and produced shows with a group for inner-city youth in Southern California. Since then, he’s worked as executive director for a children’s

theater in Tennessee and served on the board of Albuquerque Little Theater.

Wilgus said music, theater and his faith changed his life, and he’s not sure where he’d be without them.

Even as school systems cut funding for arts, Wilgus said, students and families still want the experience.

“I have seen tremendous amounts of peer mentorship, communication skills, confidence, personal responsibility, working in a team environment,” he said of the benefits of children participating in drama.

While 12-year-old Larsen Rogers is in the midst of only his second week of theater involvement, he’s portraying a knight in the upcoming Stage One children’s production “Rapunzel Untangled.”

“I like the acting,” he said.

Larsen said if he messes up, no one judges him. He likes practicing and improving.

“I’ve learned that I can try new things and that I can really like them,” he said.

Rebecca Kennerly, a parent of young actresses and a Stage One board member, said Stage One is unique in that it blends all ages.

“You can really, truly get the whole family involved, no matter the age,” she said, adding that makes it more fun.

Kennerly has a part in this week’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and her daughters, ages five and eight, are playing in “Rapunzel Untangled.” Her husband often works backstage.

Wilgus and his wife, Courtney, who’s working with him on Stage One, want to concentrate on education this fall and hope to expand to working i

n the local school systems. He said they’ll eventually have adult theater classes, too.

Stage One is always looking for actors, directors, teachers and, especially, volunteers. While theater is Wilgus’s passion, he still has to make time for a day job as promotions manager at Pest Defense Solutions on the West Side.