A Note to Our Students and Families

Dear Junior Theatre Families and Friends,

Junior Theatre is taking a brief “intermission” from programming until further notice. The health and safety of our staff, students, patrons and supporters is our top priority. Junior Theatre is closely monitoring the national situation surrounding COVID-19 and we are looking forward to the day when we receive our cue for places from the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.

We have every hope that soon our classrooms will be alive and thriving once again with summer campers and Shakespeare workshops; and in our theatre, students might soon be wowing families with tales of frogs and toads, snowy days, Chinese dragons, gigantic peaches, glass slippers, and a cheesy little man who stinks…all led by a girl named Matilda who is much too determined to let a setback stand in her way!

We are working remotely to keep critical operations moving forward. When our building is re-opened, we will be ready to jump back into programming with enthusiasm and a renewed sense of appreciation. “Like” our Facebook page to get updates, or take a trip down memory lane as a reminder of all the hope and happiness that Junior Theatre students have shared with audiences over the past 73 years.

The recent cancellations of programs will have a serious financial impact to Junior Theatre and our ability to serve families in the future. If you would like to support us during this unprecedented challenge, please consider converting your tuition credit or ticket purchase into a donation. Or make a donation via our website.

The Show Must Go On, as they say, and your gift will help ensure a standing ovation!

Thank you for your understanding and support during this critical time. We wish your family good health and good spirits. Please do not hesitate to reach out at [email protected] with any questions.

We look forward to having you back and on the edge of your seat again soon!

James Saba
Executive Director

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.

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