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Five things you didn?t know about Stand Out Talent

Breaking news alert: Tower Theater is open!
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Stand Out Talent founder Jennifer Bortz has the word "believe" inscribed in her rings.

This reminder motivates her to focus on her goals: The main one now being the success of the nonprofit theater group and training company she founded in May 2011 and runs with her husband.

Stand Out Talent has showcased dozens of plays, music performances, acting workshops and more. But attendance has been unpredictable and sometimes disappointing.

"It takes people to believe in it ... People need to step out and say, 'Maybe we're going to go out and see theater and that would be fun,'" Jason Bortz said.

1. Tower Theater is open: When Civic Theatre West - originally Magic Circle Theatre - ceased operations in November 2011 due to debt, some patrons thought Tower Theater closed down. That didn't happen. The city-owned facility is now home to Stand Out Talent.

"A challenge that still exists is not everyone recognizes Stand Out Talent is in the Tower Theater," said Mark Wolinski, with the city of Roseville. "Some people still think it's closed."

On June 20, Roseville City Council will vote on a two-year lease extension for the organization to remain in the theater.

2. Stand Out Talent showcases youth: Stand Out Talent is hosting a workshop for kids 5 to 13 years old from July 9 through Aug. 4. Participants will learn about performing, vocals, stage movement and audition techniques, and will create shows.

Jennifer Bortz also leads two performance groups of youth 8 to 21 who sing around town. They'll also act in "Cinderella Kids," which runs Fridays, June 8 and 15, Saturdays, June 9 and June 16, and Sundays June 10 and 17. 

3. But it isn't just for kids: In January, Jennifer Bortz brought in friend and Broadway performer Danny Gurwin to direct "Next to Normal," a musical about a mom suffering from bipolar disorder. The play deals with substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and other mature subject matter.

Jason Bortz said putting on "Next to Normal" demonstrated how Stand Out Talent wants to "tell brilliant stories with brilliant people." Wolinski, a regular theatergoer, saw "Next to Normal" and considers the local show one of the most powerful community productions he's ever seen.

4. Their programming is diverse: When Civic Theatre West closed and Tower Theater became vacant, the city sought a new occupant that would reach out to a large cross-section of the community and help make Roseville a regional destination. Stand Out Talent was selected mainly because of its diverse programming.

The organization plans to host weekly film screenings beginning in July, and will hold Roseville's first animation festival in September. They've offered screenwriting workshops, and opened their doors to IndieCon. In May, pianist and composer Todd Schroeder taught a class on how to audition and work in musical theater.

"We're not just a theater company," Jason Bortz said.

5. The founders know their craft

Jason Bortz started acting at 9 years old. He's written screenplays and appeared in several indie films. Now he's focusing on behind-the-scenes aspects of his craft.

"I still work, I still act," he said. "I do it because I have an ethic. I want to be the absolute best. I want to inspire that ethic in others."

Jennifer Bortz moved to New York City at 17 to pursue acting. Now, she also designs costumes, makes props, trains young actors and more.

"I am doing exactly what I was trained to do and that was to have my own theater company," she said. "I still perform. I am a performer first."

Their skill set made Stand Out Talent perfect for Tower Theater, Wolinski said.

"The city has a strong vision of moving the community into downtown and having theater groups (there) is just so very important to that," he said. "We feel fortunate to have two theater companies up and operating and we hope the community will continue to support them."

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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For more information on Stand Out Talent, visit www.standouttalent.org.