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About the N.C. 4-H Performing Arts Troupe

In 1982, Mark Dearmon, Julie Landry and Dan Cook began the North Carolina 4-H Performing Arts Troupe (4-H PAT), a unique theatre program for teens age 12-19. The concept was simple -- to produce and stage an original musical with only six days of rehearsals. At the time, many people thought they were crazy. How could you possibly produce an original musical in six days -- with TEENAGERS?

For ten years, this audacious concept gave hundreds of 4-H’ers the challenge of their lives and resulted in a number of remarkable productions. Some of our students have gone on to perform around the country on stage and on the air.

In 1991, the curtain came down on the Troupe and for years, 4-H’ers, leaders and agents have talked about “bringing back the Troupe.” With the arrival of the 4-H Centennial, the temptation was too great and a team of original Troupe leaders and students began plans for the Troupe’s return. The goal: to write and produce an original musical highlighting some of the 100 year history of 4-H in North Carolina. Four of our former students -- John Hood, David North, Tracy Fitch and Shelley Peterson -- have returned this year as adult leaders along with producer Mark Dearmon and artistic director Dan Mason.

The focus of the 4-H PAT is the production of an original musical written for the Troupe. 4-H’ers were selected through auditions and interviews in March. They had six days of rehearsals to learn all their lines, songs, dances, and blocking. The same time frame challenged the tech staff and students to build the set, hang the lights, design sound reinforcement and run the show.

The Troupe staff believes that if teens are given a challenge and an opportunity, they will rise to the occasion. The learn-by-doing approach taken by the Troupe gives them that challenge and opportunity. In the process, our students have a chance to work with talented theatre professionals from around the country to rehearse and stage their original production.

We hope you enjoy the Troupe’s return.It is the product of long hours of hard work and dedication by our students, their parents and our staff.