Friday, March 19, 2004

Youth drama group hopes play helps teens deal with emotions



By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

IF YOU GO

What: Dead Serious ... About Life, performed by Mishpachah.

When: 7 p.m. today, 6 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.Where: Loveland High School, 1 Tiger Trail, Loveland.

Tickets: $7 in advance, $8 at the door.

Information: (513) 459-7268 or (800) 459-7268, or www.mish-inc.com

LOVELAND - Each year in the United States, thousands of teen-agers take their lives.

Suicide is the No. 3 cause of death (behind car accidents and homicides) for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Washington.

A Cincinnati-based youth drama group is determined to do something about these disturbing numbers by helping teens deal with the emotions and fears of growing up.

The nondenominational group, called Mishpachah (a Hebrew word meaning family or clan), will perform Dead Serious ... About Life this weekend at Loveland High School.

The production exposes the audience to the issues of suicide, abortion, alcohol, drugs, religion and sex - "issues that all too often we don't want to talk about or face," said director Terri Hopton.

"It will make you laugh, cry, hurt, fear and feel," Hopton said. "But most of all, Dead Serious will make you take a second look at life."

Production staffer Jessica Hauser, a 1995 Lakota High School graduate, is a former cast member.

"You walk away from it and your life is impacted," Hauser said.

"It doesn't matter if you're 12 years old, 17 or 35, the central focus of the musical is hope."

Her parents, Chris and Sandy Hauser of West Chester Township, donate money and time to Mishpachah, which has toured 15 states, including Ohio.

The Hausers know of one young person who committed suicide.

"This play hits an area of ministry nobody else does," Chris Hauser said.

"If this saves just one life in a whole year, then it's worth whatever anybody puts into it."

The group started in 1984 as a teen church choir, performing some dramas.

It evolved into an independent, nonprofit drama group. Cast members are required to attend religious services.

This year's cast has 40 students in grades 9-12 from 15 area high schools.

Auditions are held annually. Rehearsals begin in July and continue for four months. Performances start at the end of October and are held every other weekend through June.

Following each performance, held exclusively at junior high and high schools, youth pastors and counselors from the community are available to talk with audience members.

E-mail annag376@aol.com




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