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Fountain Hills Youth Theater is a treasure in the community.

Ross Collins, long-time youth and technical director, said the youth program was developed to bolster the Mainstage productions by bringing younger people to the theater.

“The youth program has been a great opportunity for kids to grow and gain confidence,” Collins said.

Theater Board Member Patricia Druckman said the youth offerings are an alternative to sports.

“Not everyone wants to play sports, and the theater provides a great option,” she said.

Among the features offered on the youth stage is the annual YABOY (Young Actors Benefiting Other Youth) production. The program has confronted a number of teen issues such as abusive relationships, teen runaways and suicide.

“The productions are topical and relevant to things teens face in today’s world,” Druckman said.

The youth theater offers four shows per season, including the YABOY production. The shows are expensive to produce, so shows are subsidized by donations and grants. Ticket sales also help with a portion of the expenses.

Fountain Hills Youth Theater recently was awarded a $1,000 grant from Scottsdale League for the Arts. While the award offsets some of the production costs, Collins said other funds are always needed.

“About 30 percent of every production is covered,” he said. “The other 70 percent depends on outside resources.”

Fountain Hills Youth Theater is one of four organizations in the community which applied for the Republic Services Rewards grant. That award is $10,000. The award will be announced after Nov. 26.

“It takes an average of about $10,000 to produce one show,” Collins said. “That includes royalties, costumes and other miscellaneous.”

Another plan in the works to help support the youth program is to have individuals, groups or companies sponsor shows.

“We would love to have some sponsorships,” Collins said. “It would be great exposure for the sponsor, and it would be a big boost for our productions.”

Collins said the youth theater is something that has benefited young people for many years.

“The kids come back to us for a lot of reasons,” he said. “We recently had our ‘Eat, Drink and Be Murdered’ fundraiser. A number of our alumni came back to help with that. It is a great feeling to see the impact we have on these kids, and how they want to give back.”

The next theater production is “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which opens Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 23. Both Mainstage actors and Youth Stage participants will be featured in the new show.

The next youth production is “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” opening Feb. 15. Auditions get underway next month.