SEBRING - It probably won't match the "Nutcracker Suite" performance that people in larger cities see every year around Christmas.
But this past week, children like Aiden Manuel, 10, and other children worked to learn their parts last week at Sebring's Circle Theatre for the theater's production of the holiday tradition.
"It's kind of hard because you have to memorize the parts," Aiden said, but added that he still found the acting experience to be fun. He portrays Fritz and the general soldier.
The after-school program that includes the areas, such as theatre productions by children, is part of what's made the theater a success four months after its opening in July, said Brenda C. Heston, director of special projects.
She said the interest in the facility exceeded expectations for the first few months.
"I don't think I knew how busy it would be," Heston said.
Since the opening, they've had concerts by local bands, such as Lotela Gold, corporate luncheons and breakfasts, political events sponsored by the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity, health fairs, "Bras for a Cause," - an event sponsored by Highlands Regional Medical Center during October, the month designated for breast cancer awareness - and movies. During the next month, Circle Theatre will have its first wedding.
On New Year's Eve, they will have a party that will include, dancing, music, a buffet and entertainment by Elvis Wade, an Elvis impersonator.
The Youth String Orchestra from Lake Placid will perform on Dec. 19, and that's sold out, she said.
The theater's sweet shop is open for all downtown events, she said.
That such activities are being held at the Circle Theatre might be a surprise to some who last saw it during the past several years.
The theater had originally opened in 1920s, but eventually ceased being a theater. After it was used for several types of businesses, it became vacant a few years ago and began to deteriorate.
Kevin Roberts, the head of Champion for Children, which supports programs that help children, said earlier in the year the building was getting to the point where the only option would have been to demolish it.
Roberts said earlier this year he felt the building was worth saving and putting back into use to help children. The idea would be to have theater programs, but also rent out the facility for various activities that would provide money to maintain the building.
Heston said the biggest limitation is the building's size. As a result, the maximum occupancy is 300.
For the upcoming year, those involved with the theater will be looking at other activities and uses for the building.
"We are throwing around a lot of ideas," she said.
Trish Davis, who volunteers at the theatre, and runs Simple Acts Productions, which trains children to become performers, said the after school program that also includes art, has been successful.
The Nutcracker Musical production will be held Dec. 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. Tickets will be available through the theater's website at www.circletheatreofsebring.com.
Davis said she intends to enhance that production each year. She said the children have been learning through auditions.