Historic center encourages students to perform - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Historic center encourages students to perform

May 12, 2007

Albany - - A piece of history is motivating our young people to do something great, to overcome their fears and stay out of trouble at the same time. With summer coming up, it's these types of activities that will keep kids and teenagers involved in something positive rather than resorting to crime.

True talent has never been so apparent. Children, some as young as four, show they have what it takes to be great.

"Where am I? Youre in the land of Oz, where the munchkins live," four year old Alezandria Love says as she practices her lines.

She's preparing for an upcoming production called The Wiz, a soulful rendition of the classic Wizard of Oz. She knows all her parts by heart.

"Was it hard to learn all that stuff?" we asked.

"No," she proudly proclaims.

Because they have experienced coaches who motivate them to succeed.

"They come with their own pack of energy number one and number two with working with the young kids for such a long time, you know to start with them early," says Instructor Lisa Love.

That's what 13 year old Kevin Williams did.

"I figure acting is going to be my way out of Albany," he says.

Williams is playing The Wiz and he's been doing this since he was a little kid himself.

"Acting is helping me a lot through school. My mom will threaten me and take me out of the play if I don't do right in school, so I guess that has a big factor on my life."

"Does acting help make you a better person?" we asked.

"Yes sir," Williams says with assurance.

They're learning lessons of life in a building rich with history and pride.

"This is one of the oldest buildings that African Americans had to come and watch movies, this used to be the area here in the theatre where they watched movies," Love says.

Built in 1930 and restored in 1991, the Ritz Center has brought big names to Albany, including Ray Charles and James Brown. Decades later, it's still going strong providing inner-city young people with hope.

"I'm very pleased with the job they've done," Love says.

And chances are you, you may just catch one of their names among the stars.

"I have a good time when im doing my practice," 4 year old Love says.

Because that's what makes them perfect. 

The Ritz Center is also expanding its program this summer to accomodate children while school is out. You can catch the young actors performing The Wiz Thursday, May 17th and Saturday, May 19th at 7 pm.  

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