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Children's Theatre Institute launches new show

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Children's Theatre Institute to present "Vaudeville's My Home"

Big-city swindlers meet local yokels in Northside youth troupe's musical

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 13, 2009) — A pair of slick vaudeville veterans on the lam run into hilarious complications when they try to swindle a group of local yokels in the Children's Theatre Institute production of "Vaudeville's My Home."

The musical will be performed Nov. 20, 21 and 22 at the Children's Theatre Institute's state-of-the-art 300-seat theatre inside the Gene B. Glick Junior Achievement Education and Conference Center on the north side. Under the direction of Artistic Director James Leagre, The Children's Theatre Institute educates and inspires young people through theatre arts.

Set in the 1920s, "Vaudeville's My Home" features two vaudeville troupers who are fleeing New York following their robbery of a theatre box office. They become stranded in the village of Pleasant Corners, Ohio. Broke and hungry, they devise a plan to swindle the locals by convincing them they have enough talent to produce their own vaudeville show to raise money for a new school. The play try-outs are hilarious: Eloise Findley, the rich spinster, recites "The Bells;" the hillbilly McDowell clan give their deadpan rendition of "Little Brown Jug;" and the N.A.G.S. (National Alliance for Good Schools) forms a chorus line.

Fifteen Indianapolis-area middle and elementary school students will perform in the show. The cast includes several students from Carmel schools: Sam Leagre, 9, Mohawk Trails Elementary; Summer Snyder, 9, Forest Dale Elementary, Isabel Ruiz, 10, Mohawk Trails Elementary; Macy Berglund, 8, Towne Meadow Elementary; Arianna Davis, 10, Brookview Elementary; Kristen LaCosse, 11, Winding Ridge Elementary; Julia Hyman, 11, Clay Middle School; Bobby White, 13, Carmel Middle School; and Tim Pawlovich, 12, Clay Middle School.

Additional cast members are: Samantha Russell, 11, Mt. Vernon Intermediate; Ian Thomas, 11, Eastwood Middle; Emma Kinghorrn, 11, St. Pius X; Samantha Thomas, 11, homeschool; Cormac Doebbeling, 11, St. Pius X; and Brandon Burk, 10, Geist Elementary.

The production will be directed by Leagre, founder and executive director of The Children's Theatre Institute, and Megan Johnson, theatre student at Butler University. Trish Mentink, music teacher at Cathedral High School and a regular in local music and theatre circles, is music director.

About The Children's Theatre Institute

The Children's Theatre Institute was founded by James Leagre. Its roots began in Chicago in 1991 as Chicago TheatreWorks, a touring theatre company comprised of professional actors performing for children. Six years later, Leagre moved to Indianapolis and began The Children's Theatre Institute.

About Artistic Director James Leagre

A native Hoosier, Leagre began studying theater as an 11-year-old at Indiana Repertory Theatre. As a young actor, he performed with Civic Theatre, Footlite Musicals and Nettle Creek Players, as well as in commercials. As a high school student, Leagre co-founded the Hamilton County Youth Theatre, comprised entirely of students, which produced summer plays for five seasons(one of which was "Vaudeville's My Home" in which he played Emmanuel Thorndike Hooker). He went on to Ohio Northern University, where he earned a B.S. in Theatre and Public Relations in 1986. Awarded an internship with the renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville, Leagre followed that experience by going to Los Angeles where he earned his M.F.A. in Acting from UCLA and received the prestigious Jack Nicholson Acting Award. Upon settling in Chicago in 1991, Leagre founded Chicago TheatreWorks, which brought the arts to more than 300,000 children over six years. He also volunteered in Chicago public school arts outreach programs and acted in professional theatre and commercials. In 1997, Leagre relocated to Indianapolis and began plans for a major expansion of TheatreWorks' mission, resulting in the Children's Theatre Institute. Since returning to Indianapolis, he has appeared in numerous productions at the Indiana Repertory Theatre and performed with the Beckman Theatre, Edyvean Rep, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and a variety of independent films as well as local and national commercials. In addition, he has been an adjunct instructor for Butler University's Theatre Department, Marian University and a variety of high schools and junior high schools throughout the area. He and his wife and children live in Carmel.

WHAT: "Vaudeville's My Home"

WHEN: Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Children's Theatre Institute at Junior Achievement, 7435 N. Keystone Ave.

COST: $5 per person; kids 4 and under free

INFO: www.indycti.org or 317-251-5100 ext. 503

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