A new theatre company, comprised entirely of local youth, is bringing “Little Women” to the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.
A new youth theatre group is bringing a beloved — and at times heartbreaking — production to Plant City next month.
Rise Family Theatre, currently based out of Brandon, is a Christian youth theatre company that “aims to share Christ’s love to the community.”
Its first production will be held Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 at the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center, 1601 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. where the students will perform “Little Women” to the gathered crowd. The group was formed in March 2021 and this will be the company’s first show.
“What’s really unique about this youth theatre group is that they end up getting experience in every single aspect of putting on a production,” Amy Beatty, director, said. “If they want to be on stage in one show great, but then in the next one they are in charge of the other aspects of a show like tech or stage management. That’s honestly what really sets us apart. Our students learn to do everything. They do the research on the historical time period of the play for costumes, they paint the sets and backdrops. It’s designed specifically so they can say they have tried and learned how to do everything.”
Rise Family Theatre is comprised of students from middle school to recent high school graduates. Currently, all 17 members are also homeschooled students, though they are open to any interested youth joining.
Every member of the group gets to vote on what production they wish to do next. “Little Women” was chosen because member Matthew Mero had wanted to perform in the show for years.
A recent high school graduate, this would have been his last opportunity before leaving for college. They all voted to make his dream a reality.
“I’ve always loved the story,” Mero, who will be playing Laurie Lawrence, said. “It gives off the feeling, that real feeling, that you only get with a good story. While it is often thought of as a story for girls and women, if you love theatre and movies and just good acting in general, you easily get wrapped up in the twists and turns that are in this story. It has drama and humor and honestly everyone will enjoy it. It’s a great show and it’s one of those that you don’t see all that often. I know the movie that came out a few years ago resparked an interest in it, but it strayed from the book a lot and this play doesn’t.”
Mero added that this is one of the first things most in the group, and more than likely most in the audience, will have done on a large scale since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he hopes the show helps bring people together and reminds those in the audience of the importance of loving those in your life and making sure you live each moment to the fullest.
Sisters Jiselle and Jaiden Alberti, playing Aunt March and Marmee March, respectively, said the story offers an inside look at what life was like for a normal family during the civil war. The coming-of-age piece mixes heart with excitement and intrigue and keeps people on their toes, according to Jiselle Alberti.
She said that she, like most of the group, has always wanted to act and loves that Rise Family Theatre offers her the chance to explore not only what it is like to bring a story to life on stage, but also what it takes to bring it off the ground via every other aspect of a production.
Her sister agreed and added that she thinks the entire group learns to appreciate the craft more as they have firsthand knowledge of the work and effort it takes to bring everything together.
“The main thing of this group is we want to share the story of Jesus through our group,” Jaiden Alberti said. “That’s our main goal. But we have all really enjoyed getting to learn so much about what it takes to make a show happen. I think that’s going to be visible when people come out and see our show next month. We are all really excited to make this happen.”
Beatty said the group plans to present “The Importance of Being Earnest” in November and an “Anthology on Stage” in February, which will be a dinner theatre rather than a traditional play. In the spring the group aims to have a musical, though as of right now they are still raising money to purchase the royalties for the show they prefer to put on.
Rise Family Theatre is currently housed at a church in Brandon, but Beatty said they are looking for a permanent home for the group. They are also looking for any corporate sponsors and donors who wish to help support the youth theatre company in their mission.
For more information e-mail RiseFamilyTheatre@gmail.com. You can e-mail to have tickets reserved at will call before each 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. show or you can purchase tickets at the door.
You can follow Rise Family Theatre on Instagram and Facebook, though Instagram is more active. The group will be popping up at events around the community so follow their social to see when you can next meet them.
If you go
What: Little Women
When: Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. ant 7 p.m.
Where: Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center, 1601 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Tickets: Available at the door. Individual $5, Family $15. First responders, active/retired military and their families are free.