NewsPinellas County


Oldsmar theater group making a comeback thanks to local dance teacher

Oldsmar teacher
Posted at 1:45 PM, Sep 16, 2021

OLDSMAR — There’s a chance you may see an ogre, donkey or princess wandering around R.E. Olds Park next month. However, it has nothing to do with Halloween. It’s actually part of an ongoing revival of an Oldsmar youth theater group.

The Oldsmar Library is supposed to be a quiet place, but not on Monday nights, that’s when students from the Opal Theatre turn up the volume.

“Well in youth theater you are going to meet some characters,” said 16-year-old Devlin Stradling-Duncan, who is playing Shrek.

Stradling-Duncan isn’t talking about ogres or donkeys, he’s referring to his supporting cast.

“It gives me a sense of creativity,” said 15-year-old Chayse Buchman who plays Princess Fiona.

The smiles you see on their faces wouldn’t be possible without the woman behind the scenes they call Ms. Suda, who saved the theater group back in 2019, after going more than a year without a show.

“As a dance teacher with kids I couldn’t stand to see it stagnant anymore and I knew there was a lot of great theater kids out there that needed this platform,” said Suda Yantiss-Colon.

Ms. Suda started putting together productions from some of your favorite childhood movies.

“My goal is to let every single child be able to be in theater,” said Ms. Suda.

For Loki Miller, playing one of his favorite animated villains, Lord Farquaad, was the opportunity of a nine-year-old lifetime.

“On a scale of one to ten, I would say maybe like a 10,” said Miller.

Ms. Suda says what’s really special is watching the students develop right before her eyes.

“These are skills that will stay with students for a lifetime, they learn how to be in front of public, and how to speak in front of a group,” said Ms. Suda.

“Ms. Suda is amazing, she inspires me every day with how much hard work she puts into everything I just love her so much,” said Buchman.

Shrek Jr. The Musical will be performed on October 23 at 8 p.m. at the Elizabeth Smith amphitheater. Admission is free while cheering on Oldmar’s youth is priceless.

“I love what I do and I do what I love and I hope it shows,” said Ms. Suda.

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