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Youth theater group finishes year on screen and goes back behind the curtain

This is opening weekend for the first, in-person production by Riverside Children’s Theatre (RCT) after a year and a half of pandemic restrictions.

The 60-year-old organization recently completed its virtual production of Annie Jr. earlier this year. They have prepared their first performance of Peter Pan Jr. in a record five weeks when under normal circumstances they rehearse for 12. Cagney Slaughter, public relations chair for RCT, said performances will be held at the brand new Sky View Event Center in Jurupa Valley.

To push through a year of distance learning, RCT offered students online master classes.

“Normally, 18 weekends out of the school year we have our theater school as well,” she said. “We meet for three hours on those Saturdays by grade level. The kids learn music, dance, theater history, audition prep, stage makeup and more.”

Since 1957, RCT has taught young children the ins and outs of theatrical production and around 300 students participate each year.

Slaughter said the programs RCT offers teach students self-esteem and how to interact and converse with others. “It’s important for children to learn about the arts,” Slaughter said. “Since Riverside is the city of arts and innovation, we’re a huge part of Riverside.”

She continued that her own son participated in RCT from his kindergarten year until now and will graduate from the organization in 8th grade. “My husband was also a part of it as a child and he met some of his best friends who were later in our wedding.”

Tickets for Peter Pan Jr. are purchasable online. Their matinee showings are June 19th, 20th, 26th and 27th at 2:30 p.m. Their evening showings are scheduled for June 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th at 7:30 p.m.