In just a few years, the York Little Theatre has gone from the brink of closing and laying off staff members to paying off its debt and opening a brand new educational component.

"It's sort of like a Renaissance," said Lyn Bergdoll, executive director of the theater. "It's a new day here."

As part of that new day, the theater opens registration Saturday for classes in The Belmont Academy.

Under the umbrella of the theater, the academy will offer a variety of acting, performing and singing classes for youth ages 3 and up. Bergdoll said the classes are for all ages and skill levels.

Theater practice: Bergdoll said many of the classes will include tips and best practices for auditioning — whether it is for productions at the theater or a student's school.

"Knowing how to audition is a skill unto itself," she said. "And very few students and adults are well-versed in how to do that well."

Bergdoll said the classes, like the theater, give confidence to students that helps them excel in many areas.

The classes will begin the first week of March, and will be held on a rolling basis. Students can continue to take the classes for as long as they wish, and can start in April or May if they are already involved in theater productions at their schools in March.

Bergdoll said the class sizes will be based on enrollment, but the theater will investigate opening additional sections of more popular classes if there is high interest in a certain topic.

Recent success: Bergdoll said the upcoming academy is just one of the exciting moments in the life of the theater this year. The group won five regional awards last weekend from Broadway World, a website covering theater and live entertainment from around the world. Among those awards was one for Best Musical for its production of "Cabaret."

Bergdoll said the recent successes of the theater, including the awards, classes and recent sold-out shows, are a testament to the determination of community to believe in the capabilities of the organization. "We want the community to know their faith in this theater was well-founded," Bergdoll said.

For a full list of the classes available at The Belmont Academy, visit www.ylt.org.

— Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.