News & Reviews
What’s New from San Diego Junior Theatre
Get to know Junior Theatre’s Pinocchio director, Shirley Johnston! Shirley began tap dancing at the age of 6 and fell in love with dance so immensely, she soon added ballet and jazz. At the age of 16 she was a member of an award winning dance company that went on to win a National Tap Dance Championship.
Shirley taught dance all over San Diego for over a decade before becoming a high school show choir choreographer. This put her on the path to musical theatre. In 1999, she was cast in her first professional show Some Like It Hot, at Starlight Musical Theatre in Balboa Park. Since then, Shirley has performed, choreographed and directed all over San Diego County and in New York City.
This past summer, she launched her own Musical Theatre training program (Break A Leg Productions) where serious young artists took classes in acting, voice, and dance and were taken through the production process. Currently she teaches Musical Theatre Dance at Culture Shock Dance Center as well as teaching individuals and small groups privately. Most recently Shirley was seen on the Moonlight Amphitheater Stage as The Witch in Big Fish. In the Summer of 2016, she will once again run the Break A Leg Productions Musical Theatre Boot Camp at Culture Shock Dance Center.
San Diego Junior Theatre is thrilled to participate in the first ever Theatre Week in San Diego.
New JT Video!
Author Annie Barrows sends the cast and crew her best wishes on opening night of San Diego Junior Theatre’s 2016 repertory premiere of Ivy + Bean the Musical. Thanks, Annie!
Ivy + Bean the Musical is part of Rippledink’s Repertory.
Shown in Repertory with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Two plays, shown in repertory over three weekends at Casa del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park, Rippledink’s Repertory features the same students, rotating from cast to cast for both shows!
A JT Premiere! Recommended for all ages.
On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, San Diego Junior Theatre will join other charities to harness the collective power of individuals in celebrating generosity worldwide on #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving.
Each year #GivingTuesday is held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the big shopping events, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire a culture of philanthropy, transforming how people think and talk about and participate in the giving season.
A Backstage Glimpse of Youth Arts
By Deborah Sullivan Brennan
San Diego Union-Tribune, November 15, 2015
Behind the scenes at Casa del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park Sunday, actress Maddie Williams, clad in a pink gown and plastic crown, led a group of children and parents through theatrical warm-up exercises.
In the building’s green room – a sort of common area for performers – Williams challenged the visitors to repeat tongue twisters and join in a wacky dance.
“This gets you really excited before a performance,” said Williams, 18.
The presentations sought to introduce families to performing arts programs that have operated in the park for up to 70 years, and to connect four related organizations – the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, San Diego Civic Dance Arts, San Diego Junior Theatre and San Diego Youth Symphony.
Hunter Katz leads a group taking part in the Youth in Arts program at Balboa Park through a back stage tour of the Casa del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park. Courtesy photo, Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune.
The two-day event attracted about 600 visitors on Saturday, and officials said they expected similar or better turnout Sunday.
Organizers hoped giving kids a stint in the spotlight would inspire new students to join the programs, which together serve more than 3,600 children and teens.
Prospective students could tour the backstage areas of the theater, attend workshops on theater, music and dance, and then present what they learned on the Casa Del Prado stage alongside advanced students.
Through the workshops, potential ballerinas took the stage, flanked by senior ballet students in navy tutus. Prospective musicians got to check out string instruments.
Actress Lauren Basurto, 16, of San Diego, sporting the auburn locks and sparkly turquoise tail of the “Little Mermaid” character Ariel, explained how theatrical casts handle costume changes, switching out wardrobes in as little as 15 seconds during performances.
“One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned in San Diego Junior Theatre is how to be organized and responsible, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a girl grab two left shoes,” Basurto said.
Natasha Partnoy, who played the title role in the recent production of Mary Poppins, said the demanding experience of boosted her confidence.
“I didn’t have a chance to question my talents or ability,” said Partnoy, 16, of San Diego. “I had to rise to the occasion because a lot of people were counting on me.”
Melia Facello watched that performance with her grandmother Robin Sunkees last week. She was so hooked that Sunkees brought her back Sunday to explore the theatrical program. To her delight, the 7-year-old got to sing along with the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” led by Junior Theatre education director Kim Heil.
“We were here last Sunday for Mary Poppins,” Sunkees said. “The whole way home she sang the songs from the play. She just likes the theater.”