FEBRUARY 9, 2007 (Originally published in the Newark Post)
It's a few minutes before 10:30am on a recent Saturday and the parking
Inside, they add their names to the show's club roster and make their way into an auditorium that for next hour will become their world --- a colorful world full of song, dance and kid sized fun.
Pianist John Southard keeps everyone entertained with a few introductory tunes. And then the woman they've come to see appears, wearing bright blue pants, a cherry red top and suspenders decorated with all kinds of buttons.
She draws a cheer from the kids that now line the front of the stage. Others wave from their seats. Even infants look on, wide eyed, from their mothers' laps.
"Welcome to our superhero show," says Lois Young, her voice filled with excitement. "I'm so thrilled you're here today." She then begins with a greeting song that includes each and every child's first name from the sign in sheet. Children raise their hands and wave with glee as they hear their names called.
Young, a Newark native, has been performing children's songs for about 20 years now. A talented musician and performer, she works with her husband, Southard, writing music and producing monthly children's shows in the Newark area. They often get help from their 13-year-old son, Mattie Young, and other members of the close knit family.
But, Newark wasn't always so lucky to have a performer like Young in its midst. After graduating from Newark High School, she moved to New York City. She studied voice and composition at the Manhattan School of Music and acting at the famed Neighborhood School for dramatic arts.
For a time, she lived in Los Angeles. There she did voiceover work for Disney, starred in more than 50 national TV commercials and recorded some of her songs with a national record label.
Eventually, she moved back to Newark with a desire to perform in her hometown. "I really wanted to do something here. That was important to me," she said.
She started doing shows at the New Century Club in 2004. At first it was challenging competing with the many other Saturday morning activities that involve kids. Thinking back on that time, she said, laughing, "I began to hate group sports."
But, the show must go on, and she and her family made sure it did, gaining regular attendees and new faces at each show. "I learned from all my years in the business that perseverance and tenacity are the biggest things. If there's something you love, you just have to keep persevering because you're going to go through times when it's just not the way you envisioned," she said.
Now, her monthly shows attract crowds, with parents coming from Newark, Bear, Wilmington and nearby Pennsylvania. The buzz made its way to the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, which has invited Young to perform there and to lead a music class for young children. The shows will kick off this fall, she said.
So what is it about Lois Young that makes the kids cheer?
Like many children's entertainers, Young uses puppets in her shows. She gets the kids involved, encouraging them to strike superhero poses and sing and dance along to her songs, which seem to strike a chord with the audience.
Writing children's songs, said Young, comes naturally. "When I started writing them, I knew I had found my real calling," she said. "I really am very, very childlike in the way I view the world...I like to get inside a child's mind and see the world from their point of view and give voice to their feelings," she said.
Often, said Young, she turns adult experiences into songs for kids. She wrote one of her favorites, "Sticks and Stones (Always Have a Kind Word)," after her own feelings were hurt by a friend.
Young enjoys performing and being around children, describing them as "so wonderfully open and accessible, and expressive." And, she said, she has a strong connection to them during her shows. "That's one reason it works so well, because I think, in a way, they really feel I'm one of them."
Greenville Community News, Aug 19, 2003 Arts and Entertainment, Eye on the Arts by Paula Shulak
Theater for the very young - Once a month Newark performer extraordinaire Lois Young presents a morning of whimsical entertainment for young children and they react with the kind of glee and merriment that no TV screen will ever provoke. Lois combines her beautifully trained voice, magical stories, original songs, and skill as a ventriloquist and puppeteer with her imaginative sets and bubbly energy to provide an hour of fun and fascination for young and old alike. The show is a local version of Sesame Street. Each month a different color is highlighted and audience members wear something that color. They also bring a certain kind of stuffed animal. In August it was sunshine yellow and bunnies. Most of those in attendance were familiar with Lois's CD's and sang along as they danced in the aisles. Lois's many puppets are adorable but each also has his own lesson to teach. One is shy, one has hiccups, one a runny nose ---the creativity is never ending. She also appeals to each child by reading his or her name to welcome them and then singing songs in which their names are used. She has a well deserved national reputation and we are very fortunate to have her living in Delaware. All in all it is a delightful hour from 10:30AM to11:30AM on the last Saturday of each month.
This woman is very talented. Her show is a delight for preschoolers,
Several hundred listens later, our kids are still
Los Angelos Times - Kid Beat
Lois has a beautiful voice.
Lois Young is an original!..Versatile and refreshing."
All material © 2002 Lois Young