Main Street Youth Theatre on Hilton Head Island is setting the stage for a bright future for many young actors.
The theater's director, Don Hite, has more than 25 years experience working in professional theater, on Broadway and national tours. The theater has the expertise of Patti Maurer, who has danced professionally all over the world. It also has the help of three Savannah College of Art and Design students, who act as sound manager, stage manager and scenic artist.
And thanks to the stage manager, the local cast of the theatre's latest show, "13 The Musical," were able to work with David Baggett, a casting associate with the Broadway cast of the musical. He spoke to the kids about the casting process and what it was like to cast a show with teenagers in New York City.
"I think they got a little bit of a dose of reality when he said they came in and all of a sudden they were too old and we had to fire them," Hite said. "They sensed that we are all replaceable in this business."
The young actors also got to Skype with Allie Trimm, the actress who played Patrice in "13" on Broadway. Trimm spoke to them for about a half hour. Hite said they were awestruck.
Thirteen-year-old Kacy Jones, who is Patrice's understudy, part of the ensemble and the assistant director of the local production, said it was amazing to Skype with Allie.
"That was probably the greatest experience of my year," she said. "She's been my idol for like three years."
Kacy said Allie explained what it's like to be on Broadway and what it was like to be in "13." She told them to just act like themselves on stage for this show because it's all about people just like them -- teenagers.
Kacy said Skyping with Allie gave her and the other actors the push they needed.
Hite said they got to hear about the joy Allie experienced performing but also the difficulty of performing eight shows a week.
"She spoke very honestly about it, which I thought was really, really great," Hite said. "It gave the kids an insight into what it's like to be in this business because it is tough."
Hite also brought in professional dancer Dante Henderson, whom he worked with in Los Angeles. Henderson worked with the kids on their dance moves and choreographed the finale of "13." Henderson had previously come to town to work with Hite on "Aladdin" and "High School Musical."
"Don bringing in Dante was really amazing," Matthew Weeks, 14, said. "It helps to have more of a dancer's insight."
Hite said it would be selfish of him not to share with the children what he has learned about theater over the years.
"You never know if there's a Meredith Inglesby who will come out of this," he said. Inglesby grew up on Hilton Head Island and is now a Broadway actress. "If it's not Patti and I doing it (passing on the theatrical knowledge), then really, ultimately who is? Who's going to do it?"
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.