Last Friday, the Shafter Ford Theater came alive with a story of suspense and intrigue as the Young Adults Theater of Shafter staged a captivating murder mystery show. The talented young actors showcased their skills, leaving the audience in awe as they attempted to solve the crime.
The play, "The Romanian Uranium," was centered around a uranium mine deal gone wrong and involved the unintentional death of a waitress. European detective Inspector Clueless investigates the murder of two investors and the future murder of Richard Ranche.
The audience worked together to determine the criminal, the weapon and the motive of the deaths. It was an interactive show, with the actors engaging with them as they enjoyed a taco dinner with drinks.
The production was student-led, with them handling all aspects, including directing, lighting, costumes, props and stage design, in line with the theater group's mission to give experience to youth in the art of theatrical productions to broaden and grow their talents.
"If a student has an idea, they can direct and assemble a show. They give equal opportunity to all of their students," actor Joshua Cooley said.
Melanie Yasenchak was the cast advisor. She said of the student actors, "We only had seven rehearsals. It was remarkable how well they did. They are a very talented group of kids."
Natalia Crane is another actor, "We put on a really good show for the amount of time we were given to prepare. Everybody gave it their all."
However, she said this murder mystery show was unique because of the small cast and how fast they had to learn their lines.
Crane credits the theater group founder, Cris Starrh, for the chance to do what she loves on stage. "I've studied with her since I was six and am grateful for all she taught me."
Starrh founded the Shafter Children's Summer Theater 28 years ago and, as a continuation of this program, started the Young Adults Theater of Shafter along with her daughter, Dana, in 2018.
She said, "It was Dana's inspiration in hopes of taking the kids to the next level of production, putting it in their hands to do it all, and what we do is just advise and gently guide them along."
She added, "I'm amazed at what they can do for such small-town kids. I feel very fortunate to have such talent to work with. Their hearts are truly passionate about theater, which shows in their productions."
For more information about upcoming shows, visit shafterfordtheater.com. To be a part of future productions, call 661-630-4059.