Ella Yazwinski as Bard, left, Sho Ludlum as Thorin Oakenshield and Ian Horch as Smaug rehearse for the upcoming performances of “The Hobbit” at The Theater Project in Brunswick. Contributed / Amanda DeHahn

A sprawling cast of 42 actors will take to the stage in “The Hobbit” for the next two weekends, performing a play with themes that particularly resonate with The Theater Project’s Young Company, the director says. 

“Ultimately the play is about a ragtag group of people coming together to do something good, and that’s the thing about theater – you do it for the good of your soul and the soul of your community, and then once it’s done, it’s gone,” said Julia Brown, director of “The Hobbit” and finance manager for The Theater Project in Brunswick.

This will be the first Young Company production since COVID-19 struck in 2020. The large cast ranges in age from 6 to 18. It has been a challenging but fun undertaking and Brown says she enjoys getting to see kids find their voices on stage. 

Sho Ludlum as Thorin Oakenshield, left, Ian Horch as Smaug, Ella Yazwinski as Bard and Beatrice Elmore as an Ensemble player. Contributed / Amanda DeHahn

Because of the pandemic, kids now are more eager than ever to be involved with community activities and connect with their peers, she said.

“After teaching summer camps, it was so clear how much these kids needed a creative outlet, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for how important independent arts spaces are for kids,” she said. 

Managing the young cast requires a combination of nourishing the group that has been with the theater for a while and welcoming in new actors, said Amanda DeHahn, executive director of The Theater Project and a Topsham resident.


“Being able to give them the full experience of an actual show with lights and sound and a set that they can integrate into the show is really exciting,” DeHahn said.

Ella Yazwinski, a 13-year-old Mt. Ararat student who plays the roles of Gollum and Bard, has been in about a dozen of the theater’s shows. She’s excited now to be in the age group that gets cast for bigger parts.

“I’m feeling pretty confident. We’ve got most of the scenes down,” she said, though adding that Gollum’s “wacky mannerisms” did present a challenge. 

Her favorite thing about the show has been “getting to be here with all my theater friends and enjoying doing the play,” she said.

Sora Reynolds, 17, a Brunswick High School student, plays Bilbo. She has been involved with The Theater Project since she was very young, she said, and participated in Hobbit camp a few years ago.

“I was so excited to get a chance to do it again,” she said.


The set and costuming are among her favorite aspects of the show.

“With the set we have, it’s so much fun to use it in as many ways as we can,” said Reynolds. 

Because the J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy tale is so well-known and loved, the kids were very enthusiastic about staging it, DeHahn said. Its popularity, however, posed a challenge.

“It’s a fun challenge,” she said. “Everybody knows the characters and you can take a few licenses, but people have such a clear picture in their head. We’ve really put a fun spin on it while sticking to the canon.”

“The Hobbit” will be performed Dec. 2-11 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are a suggested donation of $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and $12 for children 12 and under. To learn more or buy tickets, visit theaterproject.com/22-23shows.

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