New community theater group making an MPACT

By on April 11, 2018

(Left to right) Charito Faulkner, Kami Deppen and Amber Friel of MPACT (Manheim Performing Arts Community Theatre) prepare for auditions for an upcoming production of “Peter Pan Jr.” (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

Manheim’s newest community theater program, Manheim Performing Arts Community Theatre (MPACT), is preparing to launch its first production. Auditions were held the weekend of March 3 for “Peter Pan Jr.,” which will be staged Thursday, May 31, and Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, June 2 at 2 and 5 p.m. at the Manheim Central Middle School, 261 White Oak Road.

MPACT was founded in June 2017 by Charito and Karl Faulkner. Kami Deppen and Amber Friel also volunteer with the non-profit organization, which focuses on children in grades three through 12.

“We want to provide an enriching theater opportunity for kids in the community. Our kids had participated in iStage (a similar program in Manheim that’s now defunct), and were sad when they learned it would be folding. On average, 60 kids were involved in an iStage production. As parents we were also involved in iStage. We decided community theater for kids was too important to lose, so we’re carrying on the legacy of iStage,” said Charito Faulkner.

Charito serves as producer and choreographer, while husband Karl is stage manager. Deppen and Friel serve as artistic directors, while Christa Schimitch serves as vocal director.

Deppen, who is also the owner of Big Dream Creative Arts Studio in Manheim, said she wants to see more art in the community.

“Creativity helps kids be well-rounded. Manheim is good at coming together and supporting the kids in all things, not just sports,” she stressed.

“It’s important for kids to be involved in theater, especially at a young age. Being on stage can open a kid up; they grow more confident. We also expose them to aspects other than performing such as lighting, makeup and set design,” Friel said.

Faulkner said MPACT strives to provide a “no fear” environment for kids.

“We stage a show, but it’s an educational opportunity for kids, too,” she said. “They learn about the audition process, dance skills, and how to use expression and project themselves on stage. There are a lot of ‘teachable moments.”

MPACT isn’t only for kids who have not previously been involved in a production. She said it provides an opportunity for kids with some experience performing to hone and expand their skills.

Once the cast is selected for “Peter Pan Jr.,” rehearsals will be held at Doe Run Elementary School.

More information about MPACT is available on the organization’s Facebook page:, or via email at

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

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