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DEFOREST -- While some kids played baseball this summer, some put on a musical based on the history of the sport.

In fact, participation in the Village of DeForest Parks and Recreation Department Musical Theater doubled this summer when 25 children ages 7 to 11 signed up. Normally, the program draws about a dozen participants.

"Each year is more fun than the last," said 10-year-old Chloe Janisch, who is entering fifth grade at DeForest Area Middle School and returned to the theater program for her fourth year. "It is a very fun atmosphere."

Pam Smith, who teaches music at Yahara and Morrisonville elementary schools, proposed the idea to the parks and recreation department more than five years ago. Each year she has participants put on a musical with a different theme.

"The Inside Pitch," a musical composed by Michael and Jill Gallina, was performed this year.

The children learn about acting, blocking, set design and costumes on the way to putting on a final performance at the end of the two-week class, which is among the programs offered by the parks and recreation department. The class runs for two hours every day and costs $38 for DeForest residents and $53 for others.

Smith said the participants like to make suggestions on props and other aspects of creating the musical, which helps make the program successful.

"It's fun to work out the costumes," said 9-year-old Isabel Larson, who will be a fourth grader at Eagle Point Elementary School. "Last year I had to be a bee but this year I had to wear normal clothes."

Nine-year-old Travis Nelson, who will be a fourth grader at Morrisonville, brought his miniature Brewers baseball bats to serve as props.

"I thought it might be interesting because I like baseball," Nelson said about the program this year.

Smith hopes the children have fun.

"In teaching, too, that's my number one goal," said Smith, who also likes exposing students to music.


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