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.”

School of Rock’s Director!

Wilfred Paloma will direct and choreograph of Junior Theatre’s fall production of School of Rock! Wilfred has an M.A. in Theatre Arts from San Diego State University. He is a beloved SDJT Teaching Artist, and is currently choreographing of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The pre-audition workshop for School of Rock is July 25, 4:30-6:00 pm. Auditions are August 5 and 6, 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Call the Education Office at 619-239-1311 to make an appointment or for more details. https://juniortheatre.com/auditions/

Welcome Back Ricardo Valenzuela, Director of Pippi Longstocking

Junior Theatre is pleased to announce that Ricardo Valenzuela will return to direct and choreograph our summer production of Pippi Longstocking! Auditions are April 29, 30, and May 1, 4-6pm.  Please call the Education Office at 619-239-1311 for more information and to reserve an appointment time.

Ricardo Valenzuela most recently directed Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Junie B. Jones. He is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYC, and has performed at the Starlight Bowl, Moonlight Amphitheatre, San Diego Musical Theatre, Hispanic Arts Theatre, San Diego Asian Repertory Theatre, Coronado Playhouse and Christian Community Theatre. Ricardo is also scheduled to teach Junior Theatre’s Advanced Musical Theatre Camp of Disney’s Aladdin Jr. this summer at City College (July 22, 2019-August 2, 2019).

Director Matt Haupert Returns!

Matt Haupert returns to Junior Theatre this summer as the director of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Matt’s production of The Crucible wowed audiences on the Casa del Prado Stage last fall. Matt holds a BFA in Acting and a BA in English from Drake University and an MA in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University. He currently teaches Humanities and runs the musical theater program at High Tech High North County, where he directed Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. As an actor, Matt has worked with companies such as Berkeley Playhouse, TheatreFirst, Contra Costa Musical Theater, Tibbits Summer Theater, and Hope Summer Repertory Theater. Auditions for Hunchback are April 29, 30 and May 1, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. For more information and to secure your appointment time, please call the Junior Theatre Education Office at 619-239-1311.

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