Logan Singer is starting to get a little bit nervous.
The 14-year-old is new to VIBE Music Center in Kennewick, and he’ll be making his stage debut with the group’s production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr., opening May 12.
The thought of singing in front of a crowd? Well, “it’s nerve-wracking,” he said.
Lizzie Azure knows the feeling.
The 11-year-old also is part of the cast. But she has a few other shows under her belt, and she’s learned something important.
“You get used to it and it’s fine and exciting,” she said. “You get to see all those people out there and they clap for you. It’s fun.”
Logan and Lizzie both have found a place at VIBE, a nonprofit that offers performing arts opportunities and instruction.
It’s been around for about seven years and is continuing to grow.
“(Our) mission is to help people of all ages get into the arts and learn music, learn theater,” said Megan Openshaw, musical director. “We want everyone to have an opportunity to find an outlet and use their talent.”
(Our) mission is to help people of all ages get into the arts and learn music, learn theater. We want everyone to have an opportunity to find an outlet and use their talent.
Megan Openshaw, VIBE musical director
The Alice in Wonderland show features a cast of 36, from elementary school through high school.
Performances are 7 p.m. May 12-13 and 2 and 7 p.m. May 14 at The Uptown Theatre, 1300 Jadwin Ave., Richland.
Logan plays the Mad Hatter, while Lizzie takes on the White Rabbit. Both young actors said VIBE feels like a family.
“It’s a great place,” Logan said.
“You can come here and don’t have to worry about anyone saying anything rude. Every part of it feels like you’re welcome,” Lizzie added. “We have an awesome cast that makes you feel like you can do anything instead of just keeping it all inside.”
Along with musical theater, VIBE offers choir groups, lessons in piano, guitar and voice, plus dance instruction.
It also has an 18-and-older women’s singing group in the vein of the movie Pitch Perfect. And organizers plan to add a musical preschool program this summer.
You can come here and don’t have to worry about anyone saying anything rude. Every part of it feels like you’re welcome. We have an awesome cast that makes you feel like you can do anything instead of just keeping it all inside.
Lizzie Azure, student
VIBE started small, with a handful of students at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick.
The students, including Openshaw’s daughter, Jessica Knappek, who’s now VIBE’s programs manager, were inspired by the TV show Glee and wanted to start a show choir.
As of May, VIBE — which stands for Voices in Beautiful Expression — had more than 200 students.
The group recently moved to a new building on Kellogg Street in Kennewick. The space was a former legal aid office, and VIBE leaders plan to do some remodeling.
But first, they’re dealing with an unexpected expense — $3,600 in traffic impact fees assessed by the city.
The nonprofit relies on donations and sponsorships to operate and keep prices low. A key mission is to offer performing arts opportunities to all who want them, regardless of economic status.
So they are fundraising — they’ve sold hanging baskets and held a rummage sale. More fundraisers, from bake sales to car washes, are planned.
Whether you’re backstage or you’re the one singing or you’re the one playing the instrument (you’re expressing yourself, you’re sharing and growing).
Megan Openshaw, VIBE musical director
VIBE performers also deliver singing telegrams for all occasions.
Openshaw and Knappek spoke passionately about the need for a place like VIBE.
Music, art — it’s universal, they said. It’s enriching, edifying.
“Whether you’re backstage or you’re the one singing or you’re the one playing the instrument” — you’re expressing yourself, you’re sharing and growing, Openshaw said.
A recent rehearsal was joyful, lovely. “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay,” the kids sang.
It was impossible not to hum along.
IF YOU GO
What: Vibe Music Center’s production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.
When: 7 p.m. May 12-13 and 2 and 7 p.m. May 14.
Where: Uptown Theatre, 1300 Jadwin Ave., Richland.
Cost: Tickets for the 7 p.m. shows are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The matinee is $7.50 across the board.
Children 5 and younger will be admitted for free.
Tickets are available at the door and at VIBE Music Center, 418 N. Kellogg St.