Taking Center Stage

The new Center Stage Theatre in Naperville was alive with the Sound of Music, as Kidz Kabaret performed the Rogers & Hammerstein classic during its grand-opening.

Kandiss Hernandez leads the performance group and for the last 18 months, she put her blood, sweat and tears into building a new theatre. The kids perform about 120 shows each year, and with a new permanent theatre to call their own, Hernandez says the group can focus more on performing rather than moving equipment to different venues.

“A lot of our energy was spent on renting U-Hauls, loading up the sets, setting up in the hotels, unloading it,” said Hernandez. “Here they have the opportunity to build sets, they get to practice on their stage, they learn so much more about the experience.”

Center Stage is the only community theatre in town and Hernandez hopes other performers will take advantage of the 9,000 square-foot venue.

“We really needed a community stage here that can be open to any type of venue, voice recitals, piano recitals, other theatre groups,” Hernandez explained. “ This is available to rent out to the community at a very affordable cost.”

The lobby’s walk of fame, 170 donated seats, and a costume room are just a few of Hernandez’s favorite things.

“Everything here is a work of my parents, my contractors. They all put their wings around me & helped put it together,” Hernandez said about the new theatre.
“I don’t know if there is a favorite thing. Like picking out a favorite child, you can’t do that. It’s all great.”

Named after the Kidz Kab motto, “Every Child, Center Stage,” the new theatre allows each performer to truly feel like a star.

“I think when you’re acting, you actually find a little more of yourself and that’s awesome,” said 13 year-old Brittany Lane. She played the leading role Maria in the Kidz Kab “Sound of Music” performance.

Kids kabaret has another reason to celebrate. The group won the 2010 jaycee’s not for profit of the year award.

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