Director discovers joy in her young thespians


November 09, 2001|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOR A QUIET woman who never considered trying out for her high school play, Clydia Koch has become somewhat of a Pied Piper in youth theater production in the Mount Airy area.

"There's a freshness children bring to a production," said the now-experienced director. "It's very rewarding to see young people come into a play nervous and shy and at the end to see them perform with confidence with a group of actors who've become their friends. It's fun being able to see that happen, to have the ability to make that happen."

Koch is making that happen again - this time with the Tree of Life Theatre Troupe's production of Anne of Green Gables, which opens tonight at Faith Lutheran Church in Eldersburg.

The cast includes 21 elementary and middle school pupils and high school students as well as adult actors. The youngest cast member is age 6.

"It's just fun when the youngest kids are involved because kids are more open, more apt to be free and expressive without the egos that adults can sometimes have," Koch said.

She became involved in community theater when her eldest daughter, Missy, auditioned for a role for Mount Airy Players.

She went on to work as an actress, backstage manager and assistant director for Mount Airy Players.

But Koch's first love was working with young people in dramatic productions. So when a Mount Airy Players alumnus formed the nondenominational Tree of Life Theatre Troupe, whose goal is to provide family-oriented live entertainment that reflects Christian values, Koch signed on.

She appeared as an actress in one of the group's first productions, Number the Stars.

But the Mount Airy resident found her calling when the group was looking for a director for its production of Cheaper By the Dozen, the story of a family with 12 children at the turn of the 20th century.

Koch also enjoyed working with the large cast of children.

"I think working with children [in a dramatic production] you can instill interpersonal skills, values and morals, how to work as a team," she said.

Koch directed Tree of Life's production of Our Town, incorporating many parts for younger actors. She is coordinator for the worship drama ministry at Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy. In that capacity, she directed the musical Godspell last spring.

Anne of Green Gables will be performed at Faith Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. today, tomorrow and Sunday and Nov. 15, 16, and 17. Tickets are $5, $4 for students and seniors - with a $20 maximum admission for immediate family.

Proceeds will be donated to the newly created Bright Futures, an Eldersburg-based group that provides financial and child care support for teen parents who want to return to school.

Thanksgiving baskets

Mount Airy Jaycees has launched its annual food drive for nonperishable items and grocery gift certificates to fill Thanksgiving baskets for local families in need.

Pupils at Mount Airy Elementary School and Children's Center for Discovery in Hyattstown and Monrovia are helping out.

The Jaycees will fill baskets with turkey and other food for 18 families in the Mount Airy area.

Information and donations: Angie Romanell, effort coordinator, 301-831-9085.

Adventures in the Antarctic

Mount Airy resident Frank Crowson will share memories of his worldwide adventures and sign copies of his recently published novel, The Ninth Tier Down, at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Lorien Life Center in Mount Airy.

The retired Army master sergeant said the title is an allusion to Dante's Inferno.

The novel is about a group of servicemen assigned to the Antarctic station, their relationships and how each copes with the isolation and brutal climate.

Crowson spent more than a year stationed in Antarctica in the 1960s.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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