TOLEDO, Ohio — We continue to bring you stories from our Toledo neighborhoods, shining a positive light on the people who live here.
We head to north Toledo and visit the newest tenants of the city's oldest neighborhood theatre, the historic Ohio Theatre on Lagrange Street.
The Children's Theatre Workshop moved into the Ohio Theatre about a year ago, growing out of its former home at the Collingwood Art Center.
"Inside the walls it's a wonderful little place for the kids to grow their creativity and claim it as their own," said Aimee Reid, executive artistic director of the Children's Theatre Workshop.
Built as a neighborhood film theatre, the first movie featured at the Ohio Theatre was the Mask of Zorro on Feb. 28th, 1921, and the young actors now housed here continue to bring the drama.
"Honestly it just gives me a chance to express myself," said 8-year-old Evelyn Bush. "I like mixing in a little of my personality with the character I'm playing."
Marley Louks, 9, added, "I just get to be very expressive and funny on stage and I like playing pretend."
Many of the kids have been performing with the Children's Theatre Workshop the majority of their young lives. The program starts at age 3 and goes all the way up to 18.
The older age groups also get to write, direct and even run tech on their productions.
"We don't need the kids to grow up and be professional theatre people for this to be a valuable experience," Reid said. "They grow up creative, thoughtful cooperative adults who just love the arts."
It's clear this is a special place for these young people, revealing something within them they didn't know existed.
"I've grown so much and I've made so many friends who share my interests," says Children's Theatre Workshop participant Sophie Martin McEwan.
Teacher Lorna Patterson adds, "You can really find what part of theater ignites that spark in them and we try to just cultivate it as much as we can."
As these kids grow and develop, their work in this theatre is also doing something special for this neighborhood.
"Even today, I'll come from my car and I'll unlock those glass doors and someone from across the street will say, 'We love what you're doing with the place,'" Reid said.
The goal is to keep that going for years to come.
You can sign up your kids for the Children's Theatre Workshop. There is a fee, but there are also scholarships available.
If you'd like to see these young performers on stage, the next show, "The Quest for Quasi," opens Dec. 10.
To learn more about Children's Theatre Workshop, click here.