The Farmersville Times - article by Wyndi Veigel (Reprinted with courtesy of C&S Media) | December 2011
Going to a play put on by an organization I had never heard of struck me as odd but a fun opportunity nonetheless. I was invited by a parent of some Farmersville actors to go see “Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus,” presented by the Breitling Youth Theater in Garland. For those unfamiliar with the popular Christmas play, “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus,” showcases a New York Sun editor, Frank Church, who takes the simple question of “Is there a Santa Claus?” and discusses the deeper philosophical meaning behind it. Walking into the theater, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at the talent of the young actors and actresses in the production. Their hard work as well as their natural talent was apparent on stage. The play was directed by Annie Breitling and Alice Fredrick. According to Breitling, who is also the owner of the theater group, the acting program was started in Jan. 2010. “I had done a couple of productions with the Christian Educators Resource Center, and we had done a large production of the ‘Lion Witch and Wardrobe,’ ” she said. “The kids kept asking me what we were going to perform in the spring but, due to limited space, we weren’t planning on another production.” At the urging of her mother and close friends, Breitling decided to open her own theater for kids. The youth theater offers classes from preschool through 12th grade and a variety of productions during the year. “We had 75 people immediately show up for our first production of ‘Peter Pan,’ ” she said. “We’re like a family. The kids encourage one another and welcome in new kids.” The productions are presented in the historical Plaza Theater in downtown Garland. “It gives the kids pride to be a part of something big in a large theater,” she said. For any children wanting to participate, auditions for “Phantom of Opera” and “Peter Pan” will be held in January. Rehearsals will soon be held in the group’s new rehearsal space at 303 Main St. in Garland. For more information about the theater group see www.actingforchildren.org. Cast and crew members for “Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus,” include students from Plano, Richardson, Wylie, Farmersville and the surrounding areas. They are:
Will Frederick, Cameron Lee, Alex Lewis, Miko Refuerzo, Stuart Loran, Kristopher Washington, Bryan Carpenter, Luke Lewis, Jenna Middlebrook, Alicia Pomeroy, Chelsey Humann, Emily San Miguel, Ana Murphy, Katherine Sloan, Maddie Clements, Samantha Masucci, Brittanie Scontrino, Bailey Dunton, Olivia San Miguel, Ella Roberts, Julia Knight, John Middlebrook, Chase Loran, Lilly Spitzer, Jade Rook, Brian Berry, David San Miguel, Blake Johnson, Scott San Miguel, Meredith Byrd, Emily Dower, LeaAnn Creal, Lydia Knight, Amanda Castellano, Addison Roberts, Melody Carl, Anita Pomeroy, Savannah McGrory, Madison McGrory, Elaina Berry, Hannah Knight, Meg Roberts, Sarah Sloan, Hailey Scontrino, Kelly Castellano, Samuel Scontrino, Payton Seiler, Alex Walker, Caleb Robb, Adam Kronenberger, Giordi Frederick, Christopher Carl, Abbey Clements, Sarah Knight, Josiah Gilbert, Emma Byrd, Andrew Scontrino, Micah San Miguel, Kharis Murphy, Shiloh Sellers and William Pomeroy.
The Garland Texan - article by Kim Everett | March 25, 2012
Youth theater finds home in downtown Garland; Offers variety of classes
The Breitling Youth Theater attracts young people from Garland, as well as Allen, Plano, Frisco, Kaufman, and even as far away as New Braunfels. A dream come true for Director/Owner, Annie Breitling, the theater opened in January, 2010.
They offer acting classes for all ages which include memorization, concentration, focus, characterization, speaking skills, non-verbal communication, confidence, self-esteem, creativity, presence, and stage directions. The actors are currently rehearsing for spring productions of “Phantom of the Soap Opera” to perform April 20-21 and “Peter Pan” to perform May 30 and June 1-2 at Garland’s Plaza Theatre. In addition, students can enroll in woodworking, playwriting, and technical theater classes that concentrate on the backstage theater process, makeup, sets, props, sound, lighting, and stage managing. This creates an opportunity for the kids to be involved in every aspect of the theater. When Breitling started the theater she was in charge of everything, which was an exhausting task. It has grown to include more than 80 children, and she feels blessed to have help from many of the parents. Breitling and Assistant Director Alice Frederick have written two shows together, and along with numerous other tasks, Frederick creates costumes. “Alice is a Godsend,” Breitling said. The duo teamed up to write “The Three Musketeers Unplugged” and “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Frederick’s sons Giordi and Will helped their mom shuttle more than 100 costumes to rehearsal each week before the theater had a permanent home. Debbie Clements, the mother of two actresses, is an excellent seamstress, able to implement all of Breitling and Frederick’s ideas. “Debbie is great with costumes. I don’t know what we’d do without her,” Breitling said. Brent Sloan created the theater’s website and updates it regularly with audition information and pictures from the shows. Gerald Walker Jr., who builds the sets, donated his time to remodel the theater’s home at 303 Main Street in Garland. Beginning Dec. 27 last year, Walker spent 35 consecutive days working to get the renovations completed. He also teaches the woodworking and technical theater classes. Breitling’s daughter, Brittanie Scontrino helps actors run through scenes, reads scripts, helps with advertising, registration, and billing, and she helps with technical duties. She was in charge of the website and performance programs before they had parents who volunteered for these tasks. “She is invaluable to our organization,” Breitling said.
Working toward her dream of having her own children’s theater, in January, 2009, Breitling first produced “Clown’s Play” with only nine children at Rowlett’s Christian Education Resource Center. The next show, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” included more than 20 kids. In January, 2010, she started her own theater with more than 60 children, and they held rehearsals at Garland’s First United Methodist Church. They later moved to the Women’s Activity Building before getting into their own building. During this time, they did productions of “Peter Pan,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and more.“It was important to me that we had a place where kids could learn and perform,” Breitling said. It is also important to her that no child be left out because of finances, so the theater has scholarships available and they accept donations to help fund them. She finds a way for all the kids to have parts in the productions.
Breitling, who has five children of her own, said that her calling is working with kids, and she wants to make each one feel special and important. Parent of two acting students, Jackie Sloan cannot think of enough good things to say about her. “There’s not a child here that Annie doesn’t love. They are all special to her,” Sloan said. “This is good for the kids. It helps them with memorization, self-confidence, and they make lasting friendships.” Children ages 2-19 are accepted in the acting classes and there are also classes for adults. For information on classes and audition schedules, visit www.actingforchildren.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Annie Breitling at 972-658-3915.