Local children gain experience on the Showboat

Ella Balk, Carrie Willoughby and Juliana Clark discuss their experience with the Showboat Theatre's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" Tuesday before rehearsal.Winona Whitaker/Clinton Herald

CLINTON – Each summer when professionals and college students descend on the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre for five summer-stock productions, they are joined by local children testing the waters and living the dream.

Three members of the children's chorus in the Showboat's next production, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," discussed their budding theater careers before rehearsal Tuesday.

"I've done the Showboat's kids productions since I was about 8," said 13-year-old Juliana Clark of Clinton remembering the production of "Cruella DeVille." She also performed at Clinton Middle School in "Willy Wonka Jr."

Not only does "Joseph" give area children the chance to be perform with professional actors, "It's also a really entertaining show to the audience and those who are in it," Clark said.

Carrie Willoughby has been acting on the Showboat since she was 7 or 8 as well, she said. "I was in "Oliver" last year."

A Clinton resident, the 13-year-old attends Unity Christian School in Fulton, Illinois and performed in its productions of "Ann of Green Gables" and "Elves and the Shoemaker," She said.

Acting appeals to Willoughby because "you can... express yourself in different ways." If any downside exists, it's the time the actors spend in preparing an exceptional show. "It's definitely a commitment," Willoughby said.

"A good commitment," said Clark.

"It's a fun one," said 8-year-old Ella Balk of Morrison. She'll be 9 Sunday, she said. She'll spend her birthday on the Showboat stage.

"I went to the Showboat kids camp this summer," Balk said. "This was my first year doing theater."

"Like Carrie said, It's a really big commitment. You're agreeing to give up your summer to do this. But it's fun," Balk said.

Being in a production with professionals is part of the draw to the Showboat. "They help you be better," Clark said.

Clark likes the excitement, too. "It's kind of a rush when you're on stage," she said.

"Theater kind of brought me out of my shell," Willoughby said. She wasn't entirely comfortable onstage when she took up the pursuit. "Now I love it," she said.

"It's a rush," said Balk, who was never shy in front of an audience. "I've been in dance for five years," Balk said, so being on stage is easy for her. "I just always try to tell myself, 'you're good at this.'"

The show opens Saturday at 3 p.m. with a second showing at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office. Visit http://www.clintonshowboat.org/ for more information or call the box office at 563-242-6760.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.