While free shows around Manchester were canceled this year for lack of funding, one theater group is filling the void and has expanded its lineup of entertainment.
The Bedford Youth Performing Company, which was founded in 1996 and provides instruction in music, dance, theater and a creative preschool, will present four separate musicals on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. at Veterans Park in Manchester and Saturdays at 6 p.m. at Greeley Park in Nashua from July 16 through Aug. 6. This was not their original timetable, but when the New Thalian Players needed to cancel their summer shows, the BYPC stepped in and picked up two new weekends.
“Money is tough this year but we were able to get it,” said Director Ann Davison, noting that the group received additional funding from the Donna Anne Poulack Foundation. “In Manchester, in particular, there have been a lot of cutbacks. So the city is looking for organizations to pick up the ball and deliver free entertainment. We’re working hard to provide great shows.”
Last summer the Bedford Youth Performing Company performed a single show, but this year they will be performing Annie, Jr.; Really Rosie; Bye Bye Birdie and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. Davison said they’ve had about three weeks to put together four shows, which has made for an exciting time.
While the performers, who range from high school to college age plus a few adults, will be applying their gifts on stage at night, they will be donating their time during the day. The BYPC brings performing arts, chorus, theater, dance, and music to a variety of people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy them. During the day, they travel to various Easter Seals homes to perform for and with kids with special needs, they visit nursing homes, and they are even involved with the Manchester School District and other school programs.
“The kids who are performing on stage could have been singing for senior citizens earlier in the day,” Davison said.
The idea started six years ago, when Davison had a conversation with Barbara Cauterucci, director of development. The two were pleased and proud of the programming the company was providing but wanted to do more. They realized the goal of the company was to work to grow gifts in the kids and make them talented performers, but, as they saw the kids reaching this potential, they wanted to provide them with an opportunity to give back more.
“A lot of the kids we work are very fortunate and have a lot,” Davison said. “We felt if you have a lot then you have an obligation to give back more.”
Davison said they had a relationship with someone at Easter Seals and it has grown from there. While they perform these shows in the summer, the “Circle of Giving,” as Davison calls the volunteer work, continues all year.
“When you give back you get a sense of power,” Davison said. “We can all make a difference.”