NEW PALESTINE — They shot each other quick glances and broke out in huge smiles when asked to discuss their roles in the summer musical presentation of “Urinetown.”
Two New Palestine High School students, Sarah Black, a senior, and Clay Brown, a junior, are taking part in Footlite Musical’s 60th Anniversary Season in Indianapolis. They’re working through Footlite’s Young Artist program, which features performers ages 13 to 18. The program is directed by Ed Trout, a 1982 New Palestine graduate. The two students said they are looking forward to performing in “Urinetown,” a dark comedy with an eye-popping title.
“It’s a big change from what I’ve done in the past,” Black said. “We practice a lot, almost every single day, but it is so worth it.”
After seeing a performance at Footlite, Black, who has participated in several high school performances, decided to push herself and try for a role on a bigger stage.
Footlite Musicals, founded in 1955 and located at the intersection of 19th and Alabama streets in Indianapolis, puts on seven musicals each season.
“It’s just a hobby thing for me right now,” Black said. “I don’t think I can make a living at it, but I do like it, that’s for sure.”
She’ll take part in the production’s chorus and also has a small role as a police officer.
Brown has never taken part in a Footlite performance before but is no stranger to the stage. With several local roles under his belt, he, too, said it was time to do something bigger.
“I was pretty glad when I got in the cast,” Brown said. “I think it’s a great opportunity, and hopefully, it will open some doors.”
He also has a small role being part of the chorus but said it’s still a good opportunity for any young actor.
“Urinetown,” which was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2002, is a tale of greed, love and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold.
Trout, a Heron School of Art graduate, performs on a regular basis and has directed for Footlite’s Young Artist productions for the past eight years. He is excited to bring “Urinetown” to the Footlite stage and looks forward to seeing what the young actors can accomplish.
“I don’t find it that much different from working with adults,” Trout said. “I treat the kids like professionals, and that is how they respond.”
He said the real challenges come from getting kids, many of whom don’t drive yet, to practice.
Trout began performing with Footlite more than 20 years ago and said it has become his passion. This musical is among his favorites, he said.
“I’m looking to have the young actors create their own paths in this; I also wanted it to be an homage to the original show,” he said.
Trout, too, chuckled when asked to talk about the title of the musical, one he had a chance to see on Broadway.
“I went to see it a couple of times because I loved it so much,” Trout said. “It really is one of my favorite shows.”
Getting the chance to direct the musical and guide the young performers has been a blast, he added
“A musical can be a very difficult show,” Trout said. “But the kids that have come forward have been so talented and willing to work on it.”
Both Sarah, 17 and Clay, 16 said they are learning plenty from Trout, a real stage veteran.
“Our director is very helpful and really knows what he is talking about,” Clay said.
“Urinetown” runs Thursday through Sunday. Visit footlite.org for performance times and ticket information.