Local teens and young adults have been creating their own stage works through Henry Allen's Conservatory at The Cape Ann.
Now, they have a weekly series to showcase those works as well. The regular Sunday evening showcase is called "The UnAdulterated Cabaret," and spotlights original works created by the local creators.
The cabarets are slated to run every Sunday at 7 p.m., year-round at the 1 Washington St. theater that's also called "The Annie," featuring different shows as new ideas are created and produced for the public, Allen said.
Although there is a suggested donation for the audience, this opportunity to create live theater is free for the local young people who want to expand their talents in music, dance, theater, art and even comedy. Ages of the talent generally run from 13 to 21.
"The mentors to these young people are local artists, many who show up every week and some who stop in to do a single workshop," said Allen, founder of The Annie.
"We are always getting more people who want to be mentors to this program and we always welcome their interest," Allen said.
Allen said he created The Conservatory to provide training for young people who are seriously interested in pursuing the arts professionally, whether it is performance art or poetry or design and tech.
"In the botanical sense, a conservatory protects and cultivates unique species of plant. An arts conservatory does the same for young artists. In our media-driven age, we are losing the sense and value of craft, and as a culture we are generally not teaching it to our children," Allen said. "So many starry-eyed teens watch shows like 'America's Got Talent' and think fame can be reached by handing someone a karaoke track and singing a cover of another artist's song. That just isn't the case."
The theme for the current show is "Virtues."
"At the beginning of the workshop most participants did not know what a virtue was," said Allen. "I explained to them that virtuosity is a way of living your life that is worth striving for."
They each chose a virtue to inspire their original pieces: courage, humanity, responsibility, industriousness, forgiveness, mercy, tenacity, humor, ingenuity, and truthfulness.
"Their original works explore both the virtue and the lack of it in themselves, in their community and in their world," said Allen.
He said he made the training tuition-free because he understands that many families cannot afford to pay for such classes. The Conservatory was recently awarded a $5,000 community development grant.
"By providing a fully community-supported training program for young 21st century creatives, we, as a community, recognize and send the message that these young artists of all kinds are valuable," Allen said. "In some countries, arts professionals are tax-exempt because they are considered to be a national treasure. I believe we can create that kind of respect in the arts here as well. It starts at the local level."
The Conservatory is administrated by a teen task force, which has developed a code of ethics, Allen said Participants are learning scheduling, conflict resolution, public relations and fund-raising.
Allen wants to foster the future grown of the arts on Cape Ann.
"We must start grooming a new generation of artists to take up the mantle of what was so brilliantly laid down in achievement, innovation and global reputation," he said. "If we don't, we are in danger of losing the arts here in the next 15, 20 years as people pass on or retire. Now is the time for the masters who are still with us to pass the torch and help develop the incredible young talent that exists on Cape Ann."
Three conservatory participants will also appear in The Annie's upcoming production of "Greasy Pole, The Musical!," opening June 21 to coincide with St. Peter's Fiesta, which swings into high gear on June 27. For information on that show, visit www.GreasyPoleTheMusical.com for tickets.
Prospective participants and mentors should call to schedule an audition or interview with the Conservatory Task Force; minors must have written permission of a parent or guardian. For more information, call 978-704-1269 or visit www.TheAnnie.org.
The first cabaret features Timothy "Cowboy" Bagley, 20; Patrice Kelly, 18; Celia Sanfilipo, 15; Jeremiah Burke, 18; Rachel Wolfe, 14; Cory Amaral, 15; David Tucker, 13; Sal Giamanco, 14; Shannon Kelly, 13; Justin Dahlmer, 16; Danny Cannavo, 15; and Fionn McWilliam, 14.
In addition to Allen, mentors for the first showcase are AnnMarie Shimonoski, music, songwriting, acting, hair and makeup; Rebecca Siswick, dance, design and life skills; Lindsay Welch, photography, life skills; Charlie Daly, comedy; Jen Morrison, music; Inge Berge, music; and Anita Pandolfe Ruchman, life skills and poetry.
Gail McCarthy may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3445 or email@example.com.
What: The "UnAdulterated" Cabaret, showcasing original works created by teens and young adults who are part of The Conservatory at The Annie.
Where: The Cape Ann, aka "The Annie" theater at One Washington St. in downtown Gloucester
When: Sundays at 7 p.m.; recommended for ages 13 and up, due to some strong language. Suggested donation is $5 for seniors and students, and $10 for adults.