A Note to Our Students and Families

Waiting in the Wings

We are waiting in the wings…

San Diego Junior Theatre is closely monitoring federal and local guidelines for our cue to return to safely return to the Casa del Prado Theatre for live performances and classes.

In the meantime, we invite your family to stay connected to our community with a plentiful lineup of virtually amazing classes and workshops offered via the Zoom platform. Please check out the many ways to engage with us from the comfort of your own home this fall.

For the health of our students, families and staff, all live performances are temporarily on hold through the remainder of 2020, and the remainder of our 73rd Season has been postponed until further notice.

Please keep checking back for future updates.

Thank you for your continued support of San Diego Junior Theatre during such a challenging and unpredictable time. Please consider making a donation to help to sustain our work and help us prepare for when our doors may safely re-open to our community.

JTogether

 

Theatre for the Very Young a Success at San Diego Junior Theatre

Interactive show geared towards toddlers sold out all four performances

By Teresa Monaco

On November 16th & 17th, San Diego Junior Theatre launched its first foray into Theatre for the Very Young (TVY), a type of interactive theatre geared specifically toward toddlers ages 3-7. Wake Up, Brother Bear!, written by Janet Stanford and Kathryn Chase Bryer, takes little ones on a journey of a glorious year of seasons. They see a waterfall melt, meet a butterfly, chase an elusive fish, and skate on an icy pond.

“Theatre for the Very Young (TVY) is a new movement in children’s theatre geared to toddlers and their guardians where audience members are given tasks and props that move the plot forward. The story doesn’t move forward without the help of the audience. In effect, the audience is the cast,” says Brother Bear Director and Junior Theatre Executive Director, James Saba.

“What I didn’t expect was what a magical theatre experience this would be to parents and guardians. Watching a toddler get lost in the world of a leaf, flower, or firefly, is one of the purest and most thrilling experiences I have witnessed at Junior Theatre.”

Wake Up, Brother Bear! was performed by two teaching artists, Mr. Marc and Miss Ciarlene, with the audience members sitting in a circle around them on-stage. Junior Theatre’s production featured some added elements, including an original score by Ian Brandon. Two Junior Theatre students, Lainey Bowler and Katy Dawson, played “Park Rangers,” acting as facilitators to help with props and the various interactive components of the performance.

Just minutes into Saturday morning’s performance, Sister Bear became sick and was unable to finish the show, despite her best efforts. Park Ranger/Facilitator Lainey Bowler immediately jumped in and improvised Sister Bear’s part, while Katy Dawson made sure to cover all of the Park Rangers’ material. Having attended several rehearsals and learning the general structure of the show, the students had a 30 minute window to rehearse and successfully complete the second performance of the day without missing a beat.

Lainey and Katy exemplified one of JT’s core values: resiliency. Despite the setback, they jumped in and enabled the show to go on. Other core values taught at Junior Theatre include identity, responsibility, community, and empathy. These are just a few of the many lessons and values that theatre education teaches young people today.

Wake Up, Brother Bear! was Junior Theatre’s first TVY show, but it will not be the last. The level of engagement and excitement from the audience (kiddos and their parents) will serve as inspiration for the next one. According to Sidney Hambsch, Mom blogger/Instagram influencer, it was “The cutest thing we’ve done kid-wise in San Diego.” Starting this winter, Junior Theatre will offer “Toddler and Me” theatre classes through its education program. Stay tuned for more fun toddler events and classes at San Diego Junior Theatre coming very soon.

Despite setback, the show goes on for School of Rock

We’re so proud of our resilient School of Rock cast and crew for pushing through opening weekend despite an overnight break-in at the Casa del Prado Theatre on Friday, which resulted in four stolen guitars.

“I’m proud of the cast for bouncing back and putting on a great show. I spoke with my mom and she helped me put things in perspective. We prayed that the stolen instruments get used for a good cause. I recognize that we maybe have more than others and I hope that whoever has them is able to do some good,” said Pita Birkbeck (age 15), one directly affected student.

Oliver Davis (age 12), another student who was impacted by the theft, said “Props to everyone for sticking with this. My teacher said that the show must go on; sometimes you have to be prepared for the worst. And worse things could have happened. No one got hurt. A guitar is a guitar. That can be replaced. You can’t replace a person, or their health if they get hurt. We’re okay,”

The cast and crew are in good spirits and look forward to a successful closing weekend of shows Nov 1-3.

Junior Theatre Student Meets Tony Award-Winner Ali Stroker

By Teresa Monaco

17 year-old Junior Theatre student Molly Nilsen makes almost-yearly trips to New York City—but this trip was different. The primary purpose was to scope out colleges for Molly to attend next fall. A close second, of course, was to see a few Broadway shows.

“I’m lucky enough to have access to Broadway-quality live theatre in San Diego, but there is something so magical and surreal about being in New York and seeing a show, which I’ve listened to over and over at home, come to life right in front of my eyes,” Molly explains. “This trip, I was lucky enough to see Oklahoma!, Waitress, and Alive by Heart, all of which were absolutely incredible.”

Oklahoma!, in particular, was a highlight of Molly’s trip. Ali Stroker, the first actress who uses a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage and win a Tony Award, was playing Ado Annie in this production. “I’ve been following Ali Stroker’s career ever since she performed on the Tony’s with the cast of Deaf West Theatre Company’s Spring Awakening,” says Molly. After contacting Ali’s management (and not expecting a response), Molly found out that she’d be meeting Ali Stroker in the lobby after the show.

“Meeting [Ali] was so surreal, I was absolutely star-struck. I have known for a long time that I want to pursue theatre, but I never saw myself represented on the stage. I didn’t know if it was possible for someone like me,” Molly describes. She uses crutches and leg braces to help her walk, dance, and move through life, as a result of being born with spina bifida.

“When I saw her on that stage, I started crying, because I finally realized that this isn’t impossible—that I can do this if I work hard enough. I am so lucky to have someone like her to look up to, and I hope to one day be that person for someone [else].”

When asked about her favorite part of being in Junior Theatre, Molly responds “It feels like my second home. I’ve been at JT since I was nine, and I believe it has made me the person I am today… right from my very first rehearsal at JT, I felt like I was accepted and loved. No matter what’s going on in my life, I know that for those two hours I can be in a place where people accept me and love me for exactly who I am.”

After graduating high school, Molly plans to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. Her top three dream roles are Jenna in Waitress, Anya in Anastasia, and Cinderella in Into the Woods. “Each of these characters has an inner strength that I admire, and go on journeys of self-discovery to become the best possible version of themselves. I think that’s really empowering to me and to young women.”

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