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Stage Notes Junior group stages musical with theme of kindness

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“It could have been you, it could have been me,” sang Stage Notes Junior’s group of 39 youngsters, pointing their fingers to audience members, then back to themselves, during their “Make a Difference” musical performance at the Watertown Elks Lodge Saturday.

About 150 people attended the musical performed by students from prekindergarten through sixth grade, who dressed in brightly colored T-shirts with painted handprints to illustrate the theme of kindness.

Organizers said about $2,000 was raised, which will go toward the older Stage Notes group’s “Les Miserables” performance this summer. The performance will be presented by the group, which includes students from grades seven through 12, July 9 through 12 in the Sturtz Theater at Jefferson Community College.

Older group members made a brief cameo appearance during the finale of the musical by performing a song with junior members, lifting up small children on their shoulders to the crowd’s delight.

Among the older club members was Jonathan L. White, a senior at Watertown High School, who was inspired to watch the youngsters perform. Along with getting exposure to theater at a young age, children learned about kindness firsthand, he said.

“A lot of these kids are starting younger than when I did, and this gives them an appreciation of music and shows them how they can help the community themselves,” said Mr. White, who plans to join a theater club when he attends college in the fall.

Food items were collected by youths Saturday to benefit the Watertown Urban Mission.

Stage Notes will have to raise anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 to present its “Les Miserables” performance this summer, said Ticia K. Marra, director and founder of the nonprofit theatrical production company that she launched in 2009. She called the $2,000 raised Saturday an excellent start for that fundraising campaign.

Recognized after the performance with a round of applause was Steven E. Petrillose, co-owner of Pine Cleaners in Watertown, who donated $1,000.

“Our goal is to pay off the production costs for ‘Les Miserables’ before the performance in July,” Mrs. Marra said. “The cost includes expenses for sound equipment, costumes and rights to the play.”

The goal of the Stage Notes Junior group, which was started last year, is twofold. It introduces youngsters to theater and teaches them how to give back to their communities, said John J. and Jennifer M. Thomas, who watched their daughter, Katharine R., 12, and son, J. Jake, 10, perform.

“Both of them like performing, and I’m happy the performance was about making a positive contribution,” Mr. Thomas said. “The director let them come up with some of their own routines” about kindness.

Their son, Jake, is looking forward to joining the older group as a seventh-grader, Mrs. Thomas said.

In the older group, “they get to do a real theater production and see everything that goes on behind the scenes,” she said.

Fifth-graders Katelyn E. Decker and Madison E. White said they felt nervous, but prepared, during the start of the performance. Afterward, they felt a combination of relief and pride.

“We’re very relieved,” Madison said. “We only had three practices because of the snowstorm, but Mrs. Marra gave us CDs to help us get ready.”

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