The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 9, 2013

CAST gearing up for shows, season of education

The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — While many are aware the Clinton Area Showboat has been providing professional summer stock theater for many years, organizers say that what is perhaps less commonly known is that one of the non-profit CAST organization’s goals is to share theater education with the greater Clinton area.

From patrons enjoying plays and musicals and local actors who share the stage, to high school interns and children attending theater camp, the Showboat provides learning opportunities for people of all ages.

The intern program provides high school-aged students the opportunity to learn by participation in all aspects of the theater arts. They work with professional actors and technical directors in mainstage shows, helping with set-building, lighting, costuming as well as learning their lines, dancing and singing.

“The intern program is what attracted me to the Showboat my first summer in Clinton, when I served as the education director in 2010,” states Producing Artistic Director Tommy Iafrate. “It’s an excellent program that gives young artists invaluable learning experiences in a professional venue before heading to college. I love seeing the interns begin to consider their long-term artistic goals and the journey that will take them there at such a young age. It makes me wish I had the opportunity to participate in such a program when I was a teenager.”

This summer’s intern class will be under the direction of Rachael Swartz, a third year M.F.A. Performance candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi. She hopes to dedicate her professional career to the development of education and community outreach programs.

The 2013 intern group will include 19 young people from many area communities. Haley Appel will be a junior at West Carroll High School. Matt Espey is an upcoming junior at Clinton High School. Hailey Goble is excited to be an intern for the first time at the Showboat. She will be a senior at Camanche High School. Erin Hardigan has been home-schooled and is a resident of Clinton. Siara Hawk is an upcoming senior at Fulton High School.

Carolyn Hopkins has just completed her senior year at Unity Christian High School, and said, “This will be my third summer as an intern. I just keep coming back for more. Being on the Showboat has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. You learn about all aspects of theater from an amazing group of people — actors, designers, directors and stage managers. It really is a lot of fun, and a wonderful opportunity so close to home. I loved working with them so much, I have decided to continue studying theater in college.”

In the fall, Carolyn will be heading off to Northwestern College in Orange City as a theater major.

Hailey Hughes will be a freshman at DeWitt Central Community High School this fall. Harleigh Jones is making her Showboat debut this summer. Alice Lind, a junior at Clinton High, will be a Showboat intern for the second summer in a row. Also a second-year intern, Aiden McMinimy will be a sophomore at Camanche High School in the fall. Savannah Medley is 14 years old and lives in Clinton. Audrey Simpson will be a homeschooled sophomore this fall. Danica Smith is a freshman at Clinton High School.

Noah Strausser will be a senior at Prince of Peace and is excited for his fourth summer as an intern and sixth year on the Showboat.

Emma Terronez is looking forward to her first internship season, having participated in productions at Countryside Community Theater, Quad City Music Guild, and Circa 21.

Cassandra Van Zuiden and Emma Van Zuiden are going to be freshmen at Fulton High School this fall. Allison Winkel is a sophomore at Fulton High School and has participated in many Showboat productions, including “Annie.”

Kayla Zeimet will be a sophomore at Central High School in DeWitt.

In addition to helping with the five mainstage shows, the interns will produce their own show, “School House Rock Live, Jr!” from Aug. 10-11. Theatre for Children is also produced by the intern class, providing entertainment every Saturday at noon.

A few years ago, CAST began offering theater camps for children entering grades first to eight.

“In the last few years, we’ve really seen the community’s interest in our theater camps sky-rocket — so much so, that we’ve expanded to offering two camps this summer,” Iafrate said. “The kids love it, because they’re having fun, but it’s more than that. The evidence is overwhelming how helpful arts education is to children, from every perspective. It helps them in other school subjects, it helps them socially, and it exposes them to the joy of creating art. Plus, it’s cheaper than daycare, so it’s a win for parents too!”

Camp Christmas will take place July 8-19 (Monday-Friday) and Camp Rock Around the Classroom runs July 29 to August 10 (Monday-Friday). Cost is $85 per camp and registration is available online at

Each summer CAST brings talented actors, directors, designers and technical people to provide professional theater entertainment for the Clinton area. In addition, some roles and ensemble parts are filled with local actors of all ages.

“It’s a real treat having the opportunity to work with these young people from all over the country. They choose to live in Clinton for the summer to share their considerable talents, and I have learned so much over the years,” says 10-year Showboat veteran Laurel Decker.

This season has many roles for local children, including Brittany Costello, Grace-LaNore Guillory, Nathan Hopkins, Lily Pearl Leding, Joe Mroz, Mary Kate Mroz, Katie Peck, Abby Struble, Kate Struble and Kami Zeimet. Rounding out the local company of actors areSamantha Strodtman, Derrick Bertram, Rachel Bousselot, Laurel Decker, Michele Eissens, Rob Engelson, Dorothy Farach, Jordan Hirl, Karen Mallinger, Sheila McMinimy, Ellen Miller, Hilary Mullany and Mary Pirch.

The musical “Forever Plaid” opens the Showboat season from June 6-16. “Godspell” (June 20-29), “The Sound of Music” (July3-21) and “She Loves Me” (July 25-August 3) round out the musicals. The play “Almost, Maine” (Aug. 15-23) is the last show of the 2013 season.

Season tickets are still available at Clinton Printing, Wagner Pharmacies, Sweet Woodruff and online. The box office will be open May 21-22 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) exclusively for season ticket holders to reserve seats. May 23 is the box office opening for the public.

The Showboat Opening Follies is June 11 and the Closing Follies is July 30.