One day, Jaycee Jensen hopes she can perform on Broadway.
The 15-year-old is taking steps in that direction through the South Valley Youth Theater.
Jensen, of Taylorsville, stars in "Robin Hood: Tales of Ye Merry Woode," playing Lady Kate, an evil sister of a prince who imposes taxes and takes food from poor villagers. The humorous musical runs June 28 and 29 and July 1 at the Midvale City Park Amphitheater.
It's the second production for Jensen and the Youth Theater, which was founded in October 2012. In the group's inaugural play, "Metaphasia," a retelling of "12 Dancing Princesses," Jensen was one of the princesses. She returned to the theater for its second production, having learned much from co-founder Jessie Ibrahim.
"Jessie taught me how to have more expression in my face when I was dancing," Jensen said. "My part in 'Metaphasia' was not a speaking role, but she taught me how to act with my expressions."
Teaching youth how to act is why Ibrahim and Rebecca Rowley created the theater. For the production of "Metaphasia," the duo did virtually everything from creating the sets and sewing costumes to funding the show from their own pockets. This time around, they have significantly more help.
"The quality has improved since that first show," Rowley, 26, said. "The kids are a lot more excited."
More than 50 children auditioned for "Metaphasia," a mostly female play. For "Robin Hood," there were about 50 roles, and all were filled easily. Ibrahim and Rowley say that is proof that their youth acting program fills a need.
"What we really want to do is bring out the talent in the kids," Ibrahim, 33, said. "Every time we go into rehearsal we get into character development. This show is in an English accent, and we learn how English people carry themselves. We also work on teaching them how to project their voices."
Ibrahim has plenty of stage experience, having performed in more than 100 shows, and graduated with a theater art degree from Utah Valley University. Before founding the South Valley Youth Theater, she was a director for the West Jordan Youth Theater.
As for Rowley, she and another friend started a youth theater in their hometown when she was 16. The theater still exists. She hopes this new theater can continue to grow so her and Ibrahim's three children, all under 6, can start participating.
The goal for these productions is to be as professional as possible. Rowley hopes that some of the young actors can continue to perform on larger stages such as the Hale Centre Theatre. If not, they can at least improve their public speaking skills and take pride in what they accomplish.
"This version of 'Robin Hood' is quite energetic," Ibrahim said. "There are a lot of songs. This is a really great group of kids who have put their hearts into it, and this is one that people are going to remember."
'Robin Hood: Tales of Ye Merry Woode'
When • Friday, Saturday and Monday, June 28 and 29 and July 1, at 7 p.m. Also a Monday matinee at 3 p.m.
Where • Midvale City Park Amphitheater
Tickets • $5 in advance, $6 at the door, $30 family