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New youth acting group Y.A.M. casting for debut play

Jane Kelly, founder of the new theater group Youth Actors of Mitchell, Y.A.M., recruits her first kid actor Max McIntosh, 9, during an informal meeting on Saturday at the Mitchell Library. (Sheila Slater / Republic )

Acting is serious play for 12-year-old Jane Kelly of Mitchell.

After not finding enough opportunities to perform during the school year, the young go-getter decided to form her very own theater crew she calls Y.A.M., an acronym for Youth Actors of Mitchell.

On Saturday, Kelly presented her project to a small group of like-minded kids at the Mitchell Library during a first informal meeting. Her intentions are not to compete with the Mitchell Area Community Theatre (ACT), but to fill the gap and create a space for young actors to learn, grow and most importantly, perform.

"I spend my summers in Georgia when most of the kid acting camps are offered through ACT.," Kelly said. "So I figured, I wasn't the only person who had that experience, and I wanted to start an acting group for people who are in the same situation and are looking to perform during the school year."

The Mitchell Area Community Theatre offers options for children her age, Kelly said. She also stressed that her intentions are to expand acting opportunities for her peers. Kelly plans to run Y.A.M. for kids age 10 to 15 during the year and brake for the summer when ACT has more opportunities.

After multiple performances in children's plays and summer acting camps, Kelly landed a role in Sleepy Hollow, a play put on by ACT in the summer of 2018.

"I absolutely loved that," said Kelly. "I had never been in a play before where I was working with people older than myself. That's probably what inspired me the most to form my own group."

The first play Kelly has chosen to perform, "A Doll's House," by Norway's Henrik Ibsen, is significant for the way it deals with the fate of a young married woman, who at the time lacked reasonable opportunities for self-fulfillment in a male-dominated world. The three-act play created great sensation when it premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in 1879.

"It ends with the main character, a woman in her mid- to late-20s, leaving her husband and children," Kelly said. "That had not been done at the time. It's a really good play and super complicated creating a great challenge."

Y.A.M.'s debut is planned for mid-April at Mitchell's Masonic Temple with two evening performances.

On Tuesday, Kelly will hold her first casting call at the Mitchell Library from 4 to 6 p.m. and welcomes all all kids age 10 to 15 to audition for multiple roles.