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Questions arise, "Could the Youth Theater become a Phantom?"

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD The Youth Theater of Stanley Park performed their final show of the season on Oct. 14 with the "Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux, that was free to the public.

"Thank-you to everyone for coming to the final performance of Youth Theater for the season and perhaps forever," Joan Robb, the director of Youth Theater, said to the audience.

Uncertanties of the future of the Youth Theater have been the consequence of cancellation of funding from Stanley Park.

"The cost for funding an entire season of the Theater is $10,000," Robb said. "The money was not budgeted in their [the park's] budget for this year."

Robb said over the last six years Stanley Park has paid for the funding of the Theater through a stipulation in their fundings that they are to provide financially for cultural and music programs in the Park.

Stanley Park confirmed that they will not be funding the Youth Theater Program as well as various other programs for the park this year due to a cut in their funding.

The Youth Theater receives some funding from a grant from the Westfield Community Foundation and the rest comes from public donations.

"This could be the last year it is very important for people to donate because the shows are offered free to the public," Lauren Versailles, the actress playing "Christie" said to The Reminder.

Robb has been the director of the Youth Theater for seven years. The Theater group begins rehearsing for the season in July and productions finish in October.

An audience of over 150 people were present at the show last Saturday that was presented under the Stanley Park Beveridge Pavillion.

The "Phantom of the opera" was well acted with cast members that included Mike Chamberlain as Erik the demented genius; Versailles as "Christie" and Rebecca Mularski as a doctor.

"I think it [Youth Theater] is really great," Katerina Petrankova who played two roles in the production said. "It gives kids amazing opportunity."

For more information on how to help the Youth Theater program contact Carl Quist at 568-9312.

"It would be great to have someone who could volunteer part time to help raise funds." Robb said.