Nelson County school among stops for touring theatre group

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By Kacie Goode

Boasting accents and elaborate costumes, John Yazzo and Nora Moutrane entertained kids at the Nelson County Early Learning Center Tuesday with performances about nutrition and good character. The production was one of three the pair have rehearsed for, and Nelson County was just one of their stops in their first-ever tour.


“So far we’ve been in North Carolina, and we’re going to Ohio next,” Yazzo said.

Stops also include Maryland, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and other places along the East Coast.

The young actors are part of Bright Star Touring Theatre, a company based out of North Carolina, which offers educationally focused performances on a variety of subjects.

For Tuesday’s performance, the actors presented “Professor Parsnip’s Lab of Healthy Living,” which had a science theme but focused on making good choices, not only with nutrition, but how the kids interact with each other as well.

“We have three shows that we are ready to do at any time,” Yazzo said, which include Tuesday’s selection, a production about famous scientists and a puppet show featuring a giant dog.

The company also offers a number of other productions in its tours, covering everything from historic figures to music and literary favorites.

To prepare for their tour, Moutrane said, the actors went through an intense week of rehearsals. But she said the company has a family connection and allows the actors some room to be creative.

They perform in some theaters, but mostly in libraries and schools, and their tour has and will take them to a number of places the northerners have never seen.

“It’s been really fun to be on the road,” Moutrane said, adding they have been able to experience some southern attractions, such as Nashville’s music scene, for the very first time.

Prior to joining Bright Star, Moutrane had worked in New York, and Yazzo was in school.

“I’m only a year out of college, so it’s really awesome to have this kind of working opportunity,” he said.

The Early Learning Center connected with the company through its Family Resource Center, offering a discount for the performance.

The outreach from the company is part of its mission to offer affordable quality theater to kids.

For the actors, being present in schools is rewarding.

“It’s really cool to be able to bring the magic of theater and education theater, especially for such young audiences,” Yazzo said, particularly with the loss or cutting of arts funding in many schools. “It’s such a rewarding process.”

While Yazzo and Moutrane are moving on in their tour, Bright Star performers will return to the ELC April 10 for a anti-bullying production of “The Pirate of Bully Bay.” To learn more about the company and its tours, visit brightstartheatre.com.