Young Actors Guild returns after 17 months with new musical

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Young Actors Guild will be performing Big Fish at the Alma Performing Arts center from July 22 through July 25

The Young Actors Guild is returning with their first show since early 2020 including a cast of more than 30 kids from around the River Valley.

The group will perform "Big Fish" the musical through July 25 at the Alma Performing Arts Center.

Directed by Miss Gipson, executive director of Young Actors Guild, "Big Fish" tells the story of Edward Bloom and his son.

Gipson said the musical has a lot of similarities to the popular film of the same name by Tim Burton.

The story shifts between two timelines. In the present-day real world, sixty-year-old Edward Bloom faces his mortality while his son, Will, prepares to become a father himself. In the storybook past, Edward ages from a teenager, encountering a witch, a giant, a mermaid, and the love of his life, Sandra.

"Seeing kids and young adults put it on is very interesting," Gipson said. "We all have those people that we look up to and believe that are larger than life, so we have kids who are still like that and young adults who are growing up. It's just an interesting dynamic to have."

Along with the large cast, the Young Actors Guild uses a small orchestra consisting of musicians from Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas, led by local conductor Gini Law.

People attending the play can expect to see intricate scenes and lighting with projections that give a visual show not possible with just lights and sets alone.

"There are over 120 different lighting cues in the play," Gipson said. "It is definitely visually interesting and worth the watch."

Young Actors Guild went more than 17 months without performing a stage play due to COVID-19. With the exception of small virtual performances, Gipson is excited to return the kids to the stage.

"We're just dipping our toes in now that we're coming back," Gipson said. 

Showtimes are 7 p.m. through July 24 and 2 p.m., July 24-25. Tickets can be purchased at almapac.com.

Young Actors Guild is the oldest youth theatre in Arkansas and has won 22 National Youth Arts awards. It began in the early 1950s as a touring theatre for youth.  They typically produce five plays a year. Two musicals in the summer, two plays in the winter, and an alumni fundraiser production.