Creative Grounds finds a new home

Youth theater group opens for classes and performances in Greenwood Park Mall

By Mark Gasper

Creative Grounds young actors perform in the opening scene of The Jungle Book. *Photo by Mark Gasper

After years of producing musical theater performances at schools, churches and even outdoors, Creative Grounds Fine Arts Academy opened its first production in its new home at Greenwood Park Mall. 

The non-profit group has been in existence for several years, under the guidance and leadership of Mark Landis and his wife Katie Landis. All of its theatrical productions have featured casts composed of young performers, ages 7 to 18. Now, CGFAA has its own dedicated rehearsal and performance space that it can call “home,” in an area that had previously been a retail store in the mall.  

Over the past few years, CGFAA has produced a wide range of Broadway-style musicals:  Mary Poppins, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Bye Bye Birdie, Frozen Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Singin’ In The Rain and more. This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic required a change of plans by the Landis’s and their team of directors and coordinators. Productions were moved to an outdoor venue at Mallow Run Winery, allowing the young performers to safely be on-stage and audiences to stay socially-distanced.

Mark Landis, Creative Grounds director.

On March 25 – 27, CGFAA was able to present its first production in its new home on the north side of the Greenwood Park Mall. The show was The Jungle Book – Kids, featuring an enthusiastic cast of 46 young performers, ages 7 to 12. The tech crew and directing team were also composed of young adults, along with adult staff and parent volunteers guiding the production and company.

Mr. Landis remarked that three of the five performances of “JBK” were sold-out, and the other two were nearly sold-out.

The eight weeks of rehearsals helped each member of the cast perform at their full ability. For some performers, this was their first time on-stage. For others, this was their first time to have a leading role as a featured performer in a show.  For each member of the cast and crew, this was a production that allowed them to express themselves artistically.

The CGFAA team has expanded the scope of what it is able to offer to young people across the community. It offers theater, acting and music classes for students of all ages, plus dance classes for adults. There are also several different Summer camps planned this year for all ages, interests and abilities.

Rehearsals are already underway for the CGFAA’s next production: The school edition of Les Miserables, featuring a cast of performers ages 12-18.  A live orchestra will accompany this production, which will take place weekends beginning April 29 through May 9.  

Information about CGFAA and its camps and classes, as well as tickets for “Les Mis”, can be found at cgfinearts.org

Madison Wood as King Louie in Creative Grounds’ production of The Jungle Book. Photo by Mark Gasper