RACINE — At age 10, Horlick students Logan Muñoz, now 16, and Juliana Garcia-Malacara, 17, met for the first time, playing oompa loompas in a Racine Theatre Guild production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

Muñoz, who has always been interested in the entertainment industry, said he found himself in the production after his father asked him if he wanted to audition for the show.

“At a very young age, I knew I wanted to do something that involved making people laugh or making people happy,” Muñoz said.

Neither Garcia-Malacara, nor her mother Stacy Malacara, knew much about theater. When Garcia-Malacara auditioned, her mother said the two had no idea what they were doing.

“We went into the audition winging it,” Malacara said. “We had to call and say, ‘What do you even do?’”

Nonetheless, these two theater newcomers found themselves becoming quick friends.

“That was when my whole life changed,” Muñoz said.

Milwaukee or bust

Years later, a lot has changed. The two, who will be seniors at Horlick High School this fall, have added a lengthy list of Racine Theatre Guild and Horlick High School productions to their resumes.

When the two learned about a Milwaukee Rep professional training institute for children interested in theater, with the assistance of their parents, they decided to take the plunge and audition for the program.

When Garcia-Malacara and her mother showed up at the audition, there were more than 200 children in attendance — with only 14 to 16 who would ultimately be selected for the program.

“I was really nervous,” Garcia-Malacara said. “I just saw all these kids warming up.”

Muñoz, also felt the pressure.

“I saw all these kids with their laminated resumes and professionally taken headshots,” Muñoz said. “I am not a professional. We had never done anything professional in our lives.”

Against all odds, the two received call backs and two weeks later learned they both earned spots in the program.

“It was a complete shock to me,” Garcia-Malacara said.

“We were ecstatic... and confused,” Muñoz said. “But we love theater. They saw that we love what we are doing and we want to do this for the rest of our lives. I think that’s what got us in.”

Getting with the program

In the free program, which lasts approximately a year and is led by professionals, students attend various theater topics, such as songwriting, playwriting and auditions. At the end, they participate in a production.

Garcia-Malacara and Muñoz’s parents took turns driving their children back and forth to Milwaukee for workshops and auditions.

“I think it’s an excellent program,” Gabby Muñoz, Logan Muñoz’s dad, said. “They are both very talented kids, very at ease on the stage.”

With the program nearly at its end, both Garcia-Malacara and Munoz auditioned for and were cast in a new play called “Lost Girl,” which focuses on the life of Wendy Darling after she returned from Neverland with the Lost Boys.

The two worked with the play’s writer Kimberly Belflower, and on July 20, will perform in the world premiere of the production. “The Lost Girl” is also set to be published, and the play’s original cast are usually listed in the book.

“This is going to outlive us,” Muñoz said. “Kids someday who are reading plays and hear about ‘Lost Girl’ are going to read the book and look at the original cast and our names are going to be there.”

“The Lost Girl” is scheduled for 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, July 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, 108 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. The Friday performance is sold out. For tickets, go to milwaukeerep.com.

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Alyssa Mauk covers breaking news and courts. She enjoys spending time with her family, video games, heavy metal music, watching YouTube videos, comic books and movies.

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