SHERIDAN — Spend 20 years doing anything you enjoy and the time will fly past. Just ask Richard and Tami Davis of Tandem Productions this month as they celebrate two decades of children’s theater.
“We never dreamed we’d be doing it this long,” Tami Davis told The Sheridan Press on Monday.
She had codirected a production for the Civic Theater Guild for children 21 years ago, but the following summer the group decided to stop offering the program for children.
“We had just gotten a bunch of kids interested, so we thought ‘What a shame,’” Davis said. “So we thought ‘We could start a nonprofit and do that.’”
Davis said she and her husband have always supported theater in the community, so they moved forward with creating the nonprofit Tandem Productions.
When the group first started, approximately 20-30 kids would tryout for the play and each got a part. This year, Davis said, 97 kids auditioned and 68 will participate in the production of “Annie Jr.” set to open Wednesday night at the WYO Theater and run through Saturday.
“We’ve done this play twice before,” Davis said. “We’re having an alumni reunion for any kids who were ever in Tandem, so we have some coming in from out of town.
“We thought it would be a fun way to celebrate and feel old when they all come back with their kids,” Davis laughed.
Tandem Productions is open to any children between 8 and 15 years old, so some of those original young actors could be 35 by now.
As Tandem Productions has grown, so have other theater opportunities for youth in the community. In 1998, Davis began helping with theater camps at the YMCA, giving those who maybe didn’t get a part in the annual Tandem production a shot on stage. She now helps run two theater camps through the YMCA that typically fill up on the first day of registration.
In addition to theater, Davis said Tandem productions started the Youth and Children’s Chorales in Sheridan County. The Children’s Chorale includes children in grade three through five, while the youth chorale features sixth- through eighth-graders.
Davis said it has been fun to watch the children make their way through the Tandem program, learning confidence and making friends. She noted that as kids moved from the elementary schools, to middle schools to high schools, they felt more confident knowing some of their Tandem friends would be at the new school.
“It just wasn’t as scary for them,” Davis said. “It’s been fun to watch them grow up and I’m shocked we’ve been doing it this long.”