PLEASANT HILL -- The SS Star Quest 2013 party cruise ship and its 50-plus crew is readying to set sail Saturday from the Diablo Valley College Performing Arts Theatre stage.
"All aboard!" calls out former Pleasant Hill Police Chief Jim Nunes, captain of the ship and producer. "Attention party staff. Meet me on the main deck."
One week before final technical and full dress rehearsal, cast members from ages 4-17 were running through their songs and dance routines under the keen direction of Lori Tassano.
This year's show features 25 solo acts, including violin and piano recitals, ballet, tap, jazz, singing and magic woven together with party themes that include flappers from the Roaring '20s, Elvis and rock 'n' roll of the '50s, and Mardi Gras.
"We are going to do the whole thing without script," Tassano says, as the eager crew members scramble to find their spots on the makeshift stage at the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District's Winslow Center.
This year is the 21st season for the annual youth talent show sponsored by Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill, and it has the youngest cast since it began. About 12 regular performers graduated from high school and retired from the show.
"I think we only have two performers this year over 15 years old," said Nunes, creator of the local youth talent show. "Our youngest is a 4-year-old in a group of six."
"This is the first group I joined," said College Park senior Kimberly Bueno, 17, who has been performing in the show for eight years. This will be her curtain call.
College Park students Christian McCooey, 17, a junior, plans on returning again next year, while Megan Minneboo, 16, is in her first Star Quest show, though she has been playing the piano since she was 5.
Star Quest is open to students in grades K-12. Performers must reside within the boundaries of the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District or attend school in Pleasant Hill.
"This year we had a really good turnout for auditions," said Tassano, noting there were about 50 selected for the show.
"It's 25 more than we like to have," said Nunes. "But wanted to make sure we included everyone we could."
Sequoia Middle School honor student Harmony Nichols, 13, who joined the show when she was 5, is returning again this year.
"Once I saw the show, I wanted to be in it," Harmony said. "I've been in it ever since. I love being on stage being able to sing or dance."
Along with her performances, she is helping dance choreographer and Rotarian Anne Baker coach the new cast members.
"The hardest part is probably the night before when we are doing tech, thinking it will never come together," said Nichols. "But it all works out."
Tassano prepares to rehearse the next act.
Caitlin Stone, 7, a student at Strandwood Elementary, takes her place.
"I wanted to do Star Quest because I love dancing and I like singing," Caitlin said.
Her sisters, Lauren, 9, also a Strandwood student, and Emily, 13, who attends Pleasant Hill Middle, are also in the show.
"The hardest part is having to remember a routine and having a straight face," said Lauren.
Emily intends to continue performing after she leaves Star Quest.
"I definitely want to continue singing," she said. "If I have the opportunity to do it professionally I will. If that doesn't happen, I'll still continue it."
Along with the largest cast, this year's show is one of the most elaborate, starting with a giant cruise ship for the opening number and "Golden Gates" for the closing act.
What: Star Quest youth talent show -- Cruising with the Stars
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20, with reception at 6 p.m.; also 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21, with reception at 1 p.m.
Where: DVC Performing Arts Theatre, 321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill
Tickets: $12 ($5 under 18) in advance; $15 ($10 under 18) at the door; tickets available at Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District office, 147 Gregory Lane; or Pleasant Hill Police Department, 330 Civic Drive