Dearest WCT Community,
I hope this update finds you and your loved ones happy, healthy and enjoying a little bit more of a normal summer. Definitely something all of us have longed for!
The survey results from a few months ago showed (with flying colors) that the majority of you prefer a season that replicates pre-pandemic life, however, the safety and financial implications of resuming in person are of concern.
I wanted to update you only when I had the most concrete information upon which to base WCT’s decisions.
The CDC is still noting that indoor singing is in the “least safe” category for unvaccinated individuals. Since the majority of the students we serve will not be eligible for the vaccine this fall, we do not want to risk the health and safety of our community until the guidelines change.
After much consideration and until we can be assured of creating a financially sustainable season and one that allows our students the freedom to sing and create together safely, we have made the decision as a team to take a hiatus to regroup and re-conceptualize. We will continue to update you as the year progresses.
On behalf of the entire WCT Team, I thank you so much for your continuing support and understanding.
With much love and gratitude,
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
WCT’s mission is to ignite a spark in its students that shines ever so brightly on and off the stage. We accomplish this by providing an exceptional theatre education/experience in our loving familial community.
Westside Children’s Theatre instills a sense of wonderment, passion, and excitement through theatre in its students to carry with them into the world. At WCT, children learn to trust one another, take risks, and become a vital part of a larger community. This sense of belonging allows them to interact more effectively with their peers, form a deeper and more sophisticated sense of self, and believe in their own unique creative process and product.
In the last five years there have been two very special people that have assisted in making the magic happen behind the scenes. Those people are Carroll Newman and Marley Woods. Carroll “Lalo” Newman has worn many hats during her time at WCT. Production -Stage Manager, Costume Designer, Snack Fairy-Godmother… this list and her love is a legacy. We decided we really wanted to annually honor her (and our students) who are dedicated and achieve excellence in Stage Management… (like our Lalo). Presenting: “The Lalo Legacy Award” in recognition of a student achieving excellence in stage management. Our first Lalo Legacy Award was unquestionably awarded to Marley Woods. Marley has been with WCT since the beginning (on and off the stage). There were many times while she was acting/working in her own show, she was simultaneously working behind the scenes on our other shows. Marley was consistently reliable, creative, dedicated, and professional. Adults working on our productions (whether they knew her or not) were always amazed at her knowledge and professionalism at such a young age. She was a JOY (her middle name) to have under our wing. Although we won’t be on the stage this season, it feels nice to reflect and CONGRATULATE Lalo and Marley as we prepare for the fall.
We are excited to welcome Mikko D. Sperber to our team of educators for our “Beyond the Script” Summer 2020 Zoom classes! Mikko will be teaching the One-Act Play Writing class for grades 9-12. It’s a two week class and it will focus on students using improvisation techniques to create their own characters and collaborate on an ensemble one-act play with other students.
As an actor, director, writer, fight choreographer, stunt performer, and producer he has worked extensively in both Los Angeles and New York, as well as points in between since the age of seven. Mikko began teaching at the age of fourteen for Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. He holds a Professional Designation in Arts Education from the Los Angeles County Arts Education Training Program and has been designated as a professional expert in performing arts by several Southern California school districts. He was a frequent instructor at the Los Angeles Film School, and for a variety of arts education programs in addition to WCT and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum including, City Hearts, Shakespeare Challenge, Swordplay, and K-SOAP among others.
Two weeks ago, we took 11 of our older students for the very first time from LA to NYC to provide them with a performance tour/Broadway experience! Our WCT thespians rehearsed for a few months preparing them to perform for an elementary school in Manhattan. Our kids moved the teachers/staff in Manhattan to tears and the children loved having us. They even surprised us with a tour of their school. It was most definitely a highlight of our trip. While in the city, we squeezed in a private tour of Radio City Music Hall, a visit to MOMA, Central Park and went to 3 Broadway shows (Wicked, Mean Girls and Hamilton!). More importantly, we attended 9 hours of workshops at the Broadway Student Summit with the incomparable Broadway Teaching Group. The workshops included acting, dance, audition technique, rap, voice and a Path to Broadway session where students met 3 current cast members of Hamilton, who shared their educational and professional experience with the group. To make our 5 day trip more magical, we were snowed on one afternoon and evening!
After watching Hamilton, we surprised the kids by arranging for them to go onstage and meet “King George,” portrayed by the fantastic Euan Morton! We couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids, chaperones and overall experience. HUGE congratulations to our 2020 Performance Tour Group: Trevor Fraticelli, Cate Landis, Shea McNulty, Ava Newman, Ella Newman, Ashley Reardon, Grace Reason, Crystal Sain, Abby Sheridan, Josh Sheridan and Isabella Wu! We are insanely proud of you all! None of this could’ve happened without the talent and expertise of our WCT Team: Josh Bedlion, Julie Cadena, Loretta Lemmo and Jerelyn Newman. An extra special thank you to our fearless chaperones: Stephanie Fraticelli, Shannon Michelle, Jeannine Reardon and Susan Sheridan. This trip truly exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to do it again next year. Missing this epic trip already!!!
Westside Children’s Theatre is THRILLED and HONORED to announce “Dear Edwina JR” will have a special surprise this season! The musical’s author/lyricist, MARCY HEISLER and music composer, ZINA GOLDRICH, will be visiting with the cast! This is an incredible opportunity for your children to learn about what it takes to create a children’s musical - straight from the people who do it best! Your children will make a special connection to the material that will inspire and motivate them to give that much more to their rehearsals and performance! Our mission at WCT has always been to provide our students with as much preparation and connection to the real-world as we can. This will be a wonderful and one-of-a-kind experience for our students and your children… and we couldn’t be more grateful to Marcy and Zina, two of the most talented and sweetest ladies around!
Marcy and Zina have been collaborating together since 1993, being the first women ever honored with the Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting, and Heisler was honored with the 2012 Kleban Prize for Outstanding Lyrics. Current projects include EVER AFTER, (Paper Mill Playhouse/NJ), Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School (Lucille Lortel, Off-Broadway), Hollywood Romance (Scott Sanders Productions) and a musical adaptation of a Universal Studios romantic classic (Universal Stage Productions). In 2012, Goodspeed Opera House premiered The Great American Mousical, based on the bestselling book by author/director Julie Andrews. In 2016, Goldrich and Heisler continued their collaboration with Andrews, contributing songs to her Netflix series Julie’s Green Room. They earned 2009 Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Lyrics and Music for their musical Dear Edwina, a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Theatreworks USA’s JUNIE B. JONES (based on the popular children’s book) and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for their Kennedy Center production of SNOW WHITE ROSE RED (and FRED). They have provided original songs for The Disney Channel, Disney Interactive and Feature Animation projects, Disney Theatricals, PBS, Nickelodeon, and others. As performers, they have toured domestically and internationally with The Marcy and Zina Show. November 2009 marked the release of MARCY AND ZINA: The Album on Yellow Sound Label. They are both active members of The Dramatist Guild, and have served as contributing writers to Dramatist magazine.
Learn more about them at www.goldrichandheisler.com
WCT students and staff were treated to an amazing visit by actors Jen Ray and Brock Ciarlelli! Jen plays “Nancy Donahue” and Brock plays “Brad Bottig” on ABC’s hit comedy “The Middle.” They were gracious enough to share their experiences and answer cast members’ questions about their careers, the industry, auditioning and charter techniques. They were inspiring to us all and we thank them immensely. The WCT family is a big fan of their craft and their hearts!
WCT’s “FLAT STANLEY” had an amazing musical journey from LA to Chicago to NYC when he traveled through the mail! He was able to go behind-the-scenes and even hit the red carpet! Check out the amazing pics from “Jersey Boys”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Matilda” and more! Even our students sent their own Flat Stanleys to a few venues. Sydney’s Flat Stanley went to the opening night of “Bridges Over Madison County” in LA while Asher sent his Flat Stanley to Chicago and received pictures of Stanley’s experience at the famed Steppenwolf Theatre! A huge thank you Assoc. Company Manager Tim Sulka, composer/music director Debra Barsha, and Broadway actor and WCT musical director, Jimmy Smagula!