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"Free to be' teaches the elements of acting

The children's theater summer camp production Free To Be ... You and Me stresses the development of the most important tool in an actor's toolbox, said Playhouse 19 executive director Ray Hill.

The tool: imagination.

"I'd say that 90 percent of stage work involves using your imagination," Hill said. "That's why I wanted this workshop for summer camp, because it teaches acting by focusing on imagination."

The musical, written by Marlo Thomas, teaches middle- and high-school age actors that by expanding their horizon they can invent their own future. It also strives to challenge some stereotypes.

Many of the scenes in the two-act play are named to emphasize stages of human development, such as When We Grow Up and Parents Are People.

Free To Be ... You and Me is a musical celebrating human diversity, free spirit and choice, said Hill, who directs this production He feels it is important for young people to let their imaginations wander.

"When I was young, a lot of play involved imagination. We played cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, whatever _ but the important thing was that we used our imagination to enhance our ability to play.

"It doesn't seem to be that way with children at play these days. With video games occupying so much of their time, their imagination is not really used. It's sort of turned off," Hill said.

The principal cast of Free To Be ... You and Me is William (Andy Gelin), Janet (Rachel Gelin), Richard (Aaron Whitchurch) and Vickie (Sarah Bushman). The Company, which helps sing the songs, comprises Jessica Annett, Deanna Jones, Brittany Kirkendall, Andrea Marks and Elizabeth Shade. Danielle Flury plays keyboards.