Jennetta Howell Theatricals presents ‘Bugsy Malone Jr.’ |

Jennetta Howell Theatricals presents ‘Bugsy Malone Jr.’

Jessica Cabe
(From left) Hailey Young, Emorie Heyl, Katalena Lott and Shane Burr rehearse for "Bugsy Malone Jr.," which opens Friday at CMC's New Space Theatre in Spring Valley.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You go...

Who: Jennetta Howell Theatricals

What: ‘Bugsy Malone Jr.’

When: 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday

Where: CMC’s New Space Theatre, Spring Valley campus

How Much: $10 for adults, $7 for students

This weekend, 22 kids from ages 6 to 17 will have the rare opportunity to perform in a high-end theater on a college campus thanks to Jennetta Howell Theatricals.

Howell, who grew up in the valley and is now involved in a slew of theater endeavors (including the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Defiance Community Players, which she is president of), started Jennetta Howell Theatricals in January in collaboration with the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts to give young people the opportunity to hone their performing arts skills and, in some cases, to take the stage for the first time.

“In December I put together this entire year of productions, classes, workshops and all this stuff,” Howell said. “Then I went to Christina [Brusig, executive director of the Center for the Arts] and said, ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ And she approved all of it. So we started with drama classes after school, then ‘Bugsy’ has been our big production this year, and then we’ll do two more theater things throughout the year. This is the big one, though, to start the year off.”

Upcoming theater opportunities include a SuperComic Camp in June, where about 25 students will sharpen their comedic skills and learn the ins and outs of putting together a theatrical production, and a Broadway boot camp in August, where about 25 students will expand their singing and dancing abilities and create props and scenery.

Howell said she’s excited to be helping the Center for the Arts offer even more artistic training for kids in the community.

“With theater, you definitely need collaboration, so it’s been really helpful to collaborate with them and help build their drama program,” Howell said. “They used to have a bit of a drama program. When I came back eight years ago, I started doing some theater camps with them, and then I took a break and did some other things, and I think it’s cool to come back full circle.”

There’s plenty to be excited about looking ahead, but Howell is fully focused on ‘Bugsy Malone Jr.’ for the time being. She said she chose the musical because it will be an audience pleaser, and she has prior experience with it.

“I’ve done this musical one other time,” she said. “I did it five years ago at the Glenwood Springs Middle School. That’s when I first saw this musical, loved it, and I wanted to do it again. And I think people will like the humor, the singing, the vibe of the 1920s that we’ve tried to create and the fun atmosphere.”

Howell plans to do one big musical each year with Jennetta Howell Theatricals, plus a handful of smaller, more intimate productions with fewer cast members. Overall, she’s just excited young artists have opportunities that didn’t exist when she was growing up here.

“When I was a kid, there was one musical, maybe two, a year,” she said. “Defiance Community Players, you started at 8 or 9 years old, and if they were doing a show that required little kids, you could be in it. And then CMC would do a show once a year, and if they were doing a kids show, you could be in that. So I didn’t have an opportunity like this. But I know that there are more kids now, and I would have loved to be a part of something like this. We’re all trying to help hone these kids so by the tiem they get into a community setting, or they get into middle school or high school, they’ve already had some training.”

And the young cast couldn’t be more thrilled at the chance to perform in the New Space Theatre at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.

“They came in, and the chairs are close to the stage, and they were like, ‘Wow, this is a lot closer than I thought,’” Howell said. “They’ve never performed in a space like this, and I’m very happy to bring them this kind of experience.”

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