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Spotlight on Laurel: Community Theater for All Ages

Spotlight on Laurel: Community Theater for All Ages

Kids come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some are social; some aren’t. Some are shy and withdrawn; some are attention-seeking. Whatever a child’s personality, there are sure benefits to encouraging getting up on stage and showing off a special talent. Not only is it tons of fun to participate in a theatrical production, but it helps develop confidence and public speaking skills that will serve a child throughout his or her life. 

Wess Hughes enjoys community theater so much that he’s been involved with Laurel Little Theatre for over 40 years. As an LLT board member and show director, he agrees on the benefits of participation. 

“Besides being a lot of fun,” Hughes said, “participating in theater is a great character builder for students. Over the decades, I’ve seen many very quiet and shy kids blossom as they become comfortable seeing their peers rehearse and perform.” 

He said it’s also great socially, as community theater volunteers will often find lifelong friends with similar interests. 

How old does a child need to be to really participate? 

“Depends on the production,” Hughes said, “but all ages over six years can participate in various shows each year.” 

He gave one example: an upcoming production of “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which opens the fall season in August. 

“The huge cast of 50 will include adults and students of all ages. Auditions are in June, and info is at the LLT website,” he said. 

Volunteer theater is an all-ages activity that encourages families to work together. There are four regular shows presented each season, plus a summer camp for elementary and junior high students. 

“Many times it becomes a good family activity, and parents will join in onstage with their kids, or work behind the scenes or backstage while their children are acting out front.” 

Although the “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” auditions are still some time away, enrollment has been underway for the full summer camp offered by the theater. Open to students entering first grade in the fall through students entering 9th grade, this year’s camp happens May 25 through June 1, with performances June 1 through 4 and auditions held April 23 and 24. 

The show for this year’s camp will be “The Lion King Jr.” and as long as spaces are still available, registrations will still be accepted into the beginning of March. For more information, visit 

Any parents who would like to check out the work of Laurel Little Theatre may want to consider attending the next show on the slate, “The Crucible.” It might not be appropriate for young children, but older ones may enjoy the classic drama. 

“Elementary and junior high ages are a little too young,” Hughes said, “but it’s perfect for high school and up. In fact, ‘The Crucible’ is one of those classic pieces of American literature that is taught in most high schools.” 

“The Crucible” will be staged at LLT March 30-31 and April 1-2 at the theater, 408 North 5th Ave., Laurel. For more information, call (601)428-0140 or email 


Parents & Kids-Pine Belt editor Kara Martinez Bachman is author of the new women’s humor essay collection, “Kissing the Crisis: Field Notes on Foul-Mouthed Babies, Disenchanted Women and Careening into Middle Age.” She’s a married mom to a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, who seems to spend her entire life in rehearsals for her next stage show.

About The Author

Kara Bachman

Kara Bachman is a Managing Editor for Parents & Kids. She's also a book editor, former newspaper reporter, and is author of the humor essay collection, "Kissing the Crisis," which deals with the zanier aspects of parenting, relationships and turning 40. She's read her work on NPR radio and over 1,500 items have appeared in dozens of literary and commercial publications, including The Writer, The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and, Dogster, Mississippi Magazine, American Fitness and many more. She's a New Orleans native, but lived for over a dozen years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including during 2005 when her house was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. She's a mom to two teenagers.

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