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Robert Brownlie, Ancaster Optimist, president, left, presents a cheque for $2,000 to Gord Conroy, President of Theatre Ancaster, for ongoing Theatre Ancaster Youth work particularly with teens.

Optimists support Theatre Ancaster’s Young Company

The Ancaster Optimists all know about Theatre Ancaster’s Young Company. They know this group of teens are learning about and performing musical theatre. They know the teens are learning new skills and working hard together. They know the young actors/singers love what they do. And the Optimists know all this because they are helping support this youth development and growth program run by Theatre Ancaster.

“Sometimes, young people need a little extra financial help, and that’s what we can provide…a helping hand, ” said Bob Brownlie, Ancaster Optimist President. “Pay it forward. That’s what we as Optimists do, and what Theatre Ancaster leaders do. They lead by example, and their commitment to youth is something we both understand and appreciate.”

The partnership between The Optimists and Theatre Ancaster grew from a friendship between long time Optimist volunteer Ron Bulmer and Theatre Ancaster’s Gord Conroy.

“It all began when I was a Scout leader and our sons were all involved,” said Conroy. “ Ron did great work with the Optimists for many years before his unexpected death last Christmas, and this sponsorship and partnership is a testament to Ron’s community service and belief in the power of young people to shape the world for the better.”

Theatre Ancaster’s Young Company have met weekly since September for three hours of theatre instruction and rehearsal in preparation for the final stretch of intensive rehearsals before their opening Feb 28 of their Tony Award winning Broadway show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Spelling Bee is a clever, fun, musical metaphor for life. Life doesn’t just focus on the winners, though that does happen sometimes, and neither does the musical. The musical is about all the different people who are part of the competition, and as in life, each has a story to tell.

Sam Frisk, director of Theatre Ancaster’s Young Company, loves his work with the teens. “There is no group of people more energized and enthusiastic about learning and doing, and that’s exciting and rewarding for our staff as we all work together.”

“We really appreciate the financial support by the Ancaster Optimists to our young people who are interested in music and theatre,” said Frisk. “Sometimes the arts don’t get a high profile so it’s really great to have the Optimists aboard. Our youth musical theatre program helps meet the needs of some 400 young people every year from ages 3 to 18, and we reach some people because of the commitment and support by the Optimists.”

The Ancaster Optimists are a group of community minded neighbours and friends who believe that young people can do great things with help and support. They not only support team groups from baseball to soccer and hockey, and other group programs such as Brownies and Guides, but they also sponsor engineering contests and individual young people at many different leadership conferences.

“We want the best for our youth. They are tomorrow’s leaders, but more importantly, they will be the caring and involved members of our communities.”

Join the Optimists as they support Theatre Ancaster’s Young Company production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Theatre Auditorium at Ancaster High School Feb 28 – March 2. Full details at

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