Meet the Cast of The Olinda Story

 The cast of William Mittler’s Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story features a diverse blend of Curtis Theatre veteran actors and those who are stepping on our stage for the very first time. Mittler’s play, first commissioned by the California Council for the Humanities, shares the intricacies of life in Brea as told by some of its earliest residents. Just like this story allows us to get to know the characters of Brea, we invite you in to learn more about the actors in this historic piece —

Allison Aoun

Allison Aoun | Mary

Allison Aoun (Mary) is an OCSA alum, recent USC graduate and finalist in LA’s Next Great Stage Star 2017. Regional credits: The Christians- Mark Taper Forum at CTG; Two Gentleman of Verona (Lucetta)- Looseleaf Theatre Co.; A Little Night Music; A Connecticut Yankee (Evelyn) and Wonderful Town- Berkshire Theatre Group. Other favorites: How to Succeed… (Smitty); Nunsense (Leo/Dance Captain); …Charlie Brown (Lucy); Bye, Bye Birdie (Gloria Rasputin); Grand Hotel and The Most Happy Fella (dir. John Rubinstein). She has played the title roles in The Principle Wife (Premiere) and Charlotte’s Web and originated roles in A Song for Christmas and Class of ‘90. Allison was also seen on the Curtis stage as a Protean in …Forum with Southgate Productions. Most recently she played Verges/Ursula U/S in Alchemy’s production of Much Ado! Proud EMC. Visit for more!   

James Menke-7

James Menke | Walter

James A. Menke is excited to perform at the Curtis Theatre for the first time and is honored to be a part of such a talented cast. James is continuing his theatrical studies and has been a part of productions of 12 Angry Men, Man Trouble, The Twilight Zone, The Revenger’s Tragedy and Look Homeward Angel. He is a husband and father and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be doing what he loves.




Charlotte Pulley

Charlotte Pulley | Young Mary

Charlotte is an 11 year old 6th grader at Macy Elementary. Her very first play was on the Curtis Theatre stage when she was only five years old. She’s been in love with acting ever since! She’s had the honor of performing with Stagelight Family Productions, Broadway on Tour and Yorba Linda Spotlight Theater! Favorite roles include Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, Tweedle Dee in Alice and Wonderland, Twin 2 in Peter Pan, a roadie in School of Rock, and Young Shrek/Papa Grumpy Dwarf in Shrek the Musical.  Charlotte is also extremely proud of her role in the short film The Voices of Warriors. Charlotte studies acting, dancing, singing and puppetry at Stagelight Performing Arts, Musical Theater Orange County and Phantom Projects. She’s thankful for all her teachers and directors, particularly her amazing vocal coach Miss Rene and her incomparable acting coach Miss Danielle. Charlotte is thrilled to be a part of The Olinda Story and is happy to add this amazing cast to her ever growing theater family.  When not performing, Charlotte can be found reading, drawing, or hanging out with her cat, Crookshanks.


Owen Switzer | Young Walter

Owen, a 5th grader at Brookhaven Elementary, is excited to make his Curtis Theatre debut in Tales from the Canyon.  Favorite previous roles include Billy in School of Rock, Flounder in The Little Mermaid  and Chip in Beauty and the Beast. He feels lucky to work with such an incredibly talented cast and would like to thank Jesse for giving him the opportunity to play Young Walter. Thanks also to mom and dad for the support and love.





Mario Vargas Jr. | Old Man of the Hills

Mario is one vivacious old fellow who couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this production; his first at Curtis Theatre! Thus far in his theatre career, he has taken on roles such as Giuliano in Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, Fabian in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and Peter Pan in Peter & Alice. More credits include: Cabaret (Herman/KitKatBoy), The Women of Lockerbie (Bill Livingston), Look Homeward Angel (Eugene Gant),Parade (Ensemble), The Drowsy Chaperone (Ensemble), and Urinetown (Ensemble).After the past few years in the wonderful theatre department at Fullerton College, Mario eagerly looks forward to the new experiences in theatre and performance that await him.



View More:

Rick Kopps | Station Master

This is Rick’s first appearance at the Curtis Theatre. He took part in over a dozen plays with the Rude Guerrilla theater company in Santa Ana, and several productions with the Monkey Wrench Collective theater group in Fullerton. Rick has also appeared at the Open Stage West in Los Angeles, Theater Out in Santa Ana, Long Beach Playhouse in Long Beach, STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, Chapman University in Orange, Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach, the Modjeska Playhouse in Lake Forest and the Attic Community Theatre in Santa Ana.



Ash Armstrong


Ash Armstrong | Ailene

This is Ash Armstrong’s first production at the Curtis Theatre and she is extremely excited. She is studying Acting at Fullerton College and is soon transferring to complete her training. Ash has been a part of many projects and shows such as Big Love by Charles Mee (Thyona) and W.A.S.P (PAT) by Zan Hall. She is thankful to the cast and crew for making this production happen.



Bianca Turner

Bianca Turner | Isabell

Bianca Turner is ecstatic to be making her Curtis Theatre debut as Isabell in Tales From the Canyon: the Olinda Story. She currently studies musical theatre at Orange County School of the Arts and has performed in over thirty five shows. Some of her favorite roles include Val (A Chorus Line), Snoopy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Arista/Princess (The Little Mermaid), Gingy (Shrek), and Core Dancer (Tarzan). Bianca would like to thank her teachers, friends, family, and Jake. She feels so incredibly blessed to be performing alongside such talented and dedicated artists. “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.”


Heather Enriquez

Heather Enriquez | Minnie

Heather Enriquez is a 20 year veteran of OC theater, recently returned to the stage after a lengthy hiatus to raise her own little troupe of artists. Her credits include Monique in Monique and Mrs. Rogers in Twilight Zone at STAGEStheatre, Louise and Mitzi in M*A*S*H at HB Playhouse, and Eleanor in Big Love at Fullerton College, where she is working towards her BFA in Theater Arts. Heather is excited to be a part of this fun project, and wonderful cast and crew. She is very proud to be sharing the stage with her daughter, Emmy, in this show. Heather would like to thank Bailey and Eric for their love and support during this process.


Cory Chapman | Robert

Cory Michael Chapman is excited to be performing in The Olinda Story at the Curtis and would like to thank the following people: Mom for always going the extra mile to make his life special; Chris for inspiring him to have the courage to blaze his own path; Cleo for their strength and patience; Dad for teaching him the value of hard work; Aunt Debbie for paving the way for future generations of free spirits; Jake for being an example of confidence; Grandma Judi for the purity of her love; Grandma Marie for being the water and sun he needed when he was a young sprout; Nick for constantly challenging him to learn more about the world we live in; Tyler for reminding him to be himself; Krystal for having the strength, love, and will to break down the walls he built and barricaded himself in – may you forever be The Breaker of Walls; Grandpa Jack for passing down his sense of humor; the teachers he’s had, whether the lessons were in a classroom every week or during a single encounter on a train, they’ve shaped his life and perspective of the world vastly.

Kira Rubeshaw

Kira Rubeshaw | Estella

After her time at Elon University, Kira is thrilled to be home to celebrate her hometown’s hundredth birthday in this remarkable production. Some of her favorite credits include The Little Mermaid (Adella, Princess u/s), Hello Dolly (Ensemble), Bad Seed (Claudia Fern), Oklahoma (Ensemble), and How to Succeed… (Ms. Jones). Thanks to all those involved with creating this production.




Mo Arii | Sophie

Mo is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and a founding member of STAGEStheatre in Fullerton and serves on the board. Previous roles include Masha in Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (STAGEStheatre), Karen in Dinner With Friends (STAGEStheatre), Poole in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Maverick Theater), and Chris in Rumors (Curtis Theatre). When not on stage, Mo teaches theater and filmmaking to elementary students and works as a corporate role player. She’s grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talent group of amazing people!


Emmy Girten Head Shot


Emmy Girten | Young Ailene

Emmy Girten is thrilled to be making her Curtis Theatre debut with such a fun cast and crew and in such a great show. Emmy’s previous credits include Titan Filmworks short I Only Cried Twice and Twilight Zone at STAGEStheatre. This is the second time Emmy has shared the stage with her mom, Heather. Emmy would like to thank Bailey and Eric for their help and love during this process.


L. Barlow-Boyes Headshot

Loralee Barlow-Bowes | Hennie

Loralee is happy to be doing her first show at the Curtis Theatre! She couldn’t be happier to be working with Jesse Runde and the amazing team here. She is a born and bred Fullerton native and is honored to have the opportunity to work on this historically driven piece. Favorite past credits include Andy (Honky) Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Hero (Much Ado About Nothing) and Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice). You can see her further theatrical skills in costuming this December in “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” at the Costa Mesa Playhouse. She sends all her love to her friends and family and she dedicates this show to her ever loving husband Tucker.


Rose London 2

Rose London | Older Isabell

Rose is delighted and grateful to be making her debut here the Curtis Theatre! She was most recently seen on stage at the Whittier Playhouse playing M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias. Last year she was Lilliane La Fleur at Costa Mesa Playhouse. Prior to that she was at West Covina Playhouse as Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond.  And, earlier, at Stagedoor Repertory Theater as Mrs. Crummles in Nicholas Nickleby and Big Momma in the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Stages Theater.  She has been doing theater since God was a child and some of her most favorite roles include: Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night, Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa, Othello in Othello, Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, Sarah Jane Moore in Assassins, Mame in Auntie Mame and Joanne in Company. She thanks her son Wes and his wife Carly, and her incredible sister, Bess, for their loving support.


Tracy Marquis | Frank

Roughly a decade ago, we told this story. The Olinda Story. Right here at the Curtis Theatre. Reprising one of the roles he played in the first time around, Tracy is deeply honored to be playing Frank Johnson again in the current production. Tracy first began braving stages, and some pretty frightening (frightened) audiences as a (frightened) musician. He started his adventure in theater in the 2005 production of “So Alone” by William Mittler and has been in over 60 plays since that time. 40 of them in a 5 year period. Mostly acting, but also directing, writing, A.D, Sound design, and writing & recording soundtracks. He was also in two movies and one commercial. Recently, a song he arranged and played guitar & bass on was up for a Grammy. Favorite roles include Drill Sergeant Williams in “Tracers”, Billy Rath in “So Alone”, George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the main guard in “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Tracy has worked as a finisher and faux painter for 30 years. He also has a record coming out soon and works part time selling vinyl records.

Coleman Summers


Coleman Summers | Stoch

Coleman Summers is an actor currently attending Fullerton College. He has appeared as W.O. Gant in Look Homeward, Angel, Harry Dangle in One Man, Two Guvners, & Will in Sentences, a role he originated. Outside of theater, Coleman has acted in embarrassing YouTube videos, embarrassing student films & writes poetry he doesn’t share



Terry Dopson

Terry Dopson | Company Man

This is Terry’s 10th production at the Curtis Theatre. Previous leading roles include Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys From Syracuse, Fagin in Oliver!, Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde: The Musical, and The Oz Gatekeeper in The Wizard of Oz. Terry holds a BA in Music from the University of La Verne. Terry was a member of the ULV Chamber Singers, under the direction of Dr. Irene Messoloras and Terry was a member of two barbershop quartets, Mixed Nuts and Optional Ending, under the direction of Carol Stephenson. Coincidentally, Terry now works as the Coordinator of Finance Administration and University Business Travel at the University of La Verne. As a Brea native, Terry is grateful to be part of the Brea Centennial through this production. He always wanted to grow a deeper connection to his community and this production was the perfect opportunity.


Avery Long | Ensemble

Avery’s first experience with theater began at age 4, but her family would say she’s been a performer since day one.  She loves theater because she can sing, dance and be with friends.  She attends Rolling Hills Elementary School where the arts and musical theater have been a huge part of her education.  Her experience with theater also includes plays with Stagelight and Sunny Hills Youth Theater.  Her greatest challenge so far was playing Edward Rutledge in “1776″ and her favorite role was playing Jane in Mary Poppins. She looks forward to being part of “Tales From the Canyon” as her own family roots go far back into Brea’s history.


Camryn Logoteta

Camryn Logoteta | Ensemble

Camryn is 11 years old and is proud to be a part of The Olinda Story.  She is enjoying this new experience and learning more about her hometown.  Camryn began performing at the age of four with Stagelight Family Productions as well as several school and church play productions.  Most recently, she performed in The Little Mermaid and is also currently playing the role of Ms. Teavee in her school Willy Wonka Jr. show.  Earlier this year, she had the opportunity to join the cast of The Giver with Phantom Projects Theatre Group and always looks forward to her Saturday morning classes with her Phantom family.  Camryn also enjoys working in other avenues of the entertainment industry.  She is truly very thankful to her family, friends, Phantom Projects, and Stagelight for all their love and support.


Emily Boliver

Emily Boliver | Ensemble

Emily Boliver is excited to be back at the Curtis Theatre to perform in another production, especially in a play as important to her and her community as this one! A few of her most notable credits in both musical theatre and theatre include: Hostess/8th Actor in Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth (Fullerton College) Wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Stagelight Family Productions), Sophie in Annie (Stagelight Family Productions), Miss Lark in Mary Poppins (Stagelight Family Productions), and Medusa in The Wedding Feast (Fullerton College). She is currently studying Theatre Arts at Fullerton College and working as a Hostess at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in Brea. Emily would like to thank her Mom, Dolly, for everything she has done to support Emily’s dreams and life. She would also like to thank her best friend, Manny, for always being there for her and giving her the advice she needs to succeed in life and theatre! She would lastly like to thank her Grandparents, Pat and Ray, for being her #1 fans. They have seen every production of her’s and she is very grateful for their support!

Daniel Camacho2017 Headshot

Daniel Camacho | Ensemble

Daniel is excited to make his Curtis Theater debut as part of The Olinda Story!  Daniel received his BA in Film and Theatre at CSULB, and has studied with Steppenwolf Classes West, SITI Company, and iO West among others!  Most recent work includes Turtle Talk with Crush at the Disneyland Resort and the Wild West Stunt show at Knott’s Berry Farm.  Credits also include shows at San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, Disney’s Flashback, The Hollywood Fringe Festival, Huntington Beach Playhouse, and more!  He also plays music, and for his latest, check out his Instagram @dcamacho13!  Daniel would like to thank his friends, family, and incredibly supportive mentors who have helped guide him along the journey!

Drew Cazares

Drew Cazares | Ensemble

Drew is so excited to be a part of this play! Drew goes to Rolling Hills Elementary, where he has participated in musical theatre. He has performed in 1776 as Billy, Hans Christian Anderson as the title role, A Christmas Carol as Bob Cratchit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as an Oompa-Loompa, and Mary Poppins as a Button Person. Drew also participates in theatre at Hope International University. He has been in The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins as Michael Banks. In his off time, he likes to play drums, guitar, and takes voice lessons. He also likes to read the Percy Jackson series. He is currently taking golf lessons, which he enjoys. Drew would like to thank all of his friends, family, and directors that have encouraged him along the way.

Chris Treister

Chris Treister | Ensemble

Chris is a rookie actor, having joined the ‘I Didn’t Start Acting Until My 40’s’ club this year. After being invited to the stage by the incredibly talented, award winning director, Gary Krinke (Thank you Gary!!), Chris appeared as ‘Coach Dunbar’ in HSMT’s production of Footloose. He then followed up that performance with a turn as ‘King Triton’ in The Little Mermaid this summer, here at the Curtis Theatre, with Stagelight Productions. He’d like to also give a huge thank you to Janice Kraus and Art Ortiz for their faith & support! The Olinda Story holds special meaning to Chris, as he grew up on a little street called Olinda Dr, in the neighborhood of Olinda Village, nestled in Carbon Canyon. He spent his childhood at Olinda Elementary School, where the original Olinda School bell still hung in the quad, and he spent countless hours stomping around through Carbon Canyon, catching snakes, avoiding cattle & mountain lions, and listening to the coyotes sing him to sleep at night. Chris would like to give a final big thank you to Bill Mittler, for penning this beautiful script, and to Jesse Runde, Tiina Mittler, and Victoria Cervantes, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this wonderful project.

Garry Head Shot 2013-001

Garry Hobday | Ensemble

Garry is pleased to be joining this talented cast of “Tales From the Canyon: the Olinda Story”.   This will be Garry’s fourth appearance at the Curtis Theatre.  Earlier performances included “All Shook Up”, “The War of the Worlds-A Radio Play”, and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.  Garry has done numerous voice-over commercials for radio, television and the internet.  In addition, he has served as Emcee, announcer, for many community and charity events gaining him the unofficial title of the “Voice of Brea”.  Garry’s theatrical credits include “Into the Woods,” where he appeared on stage for the first time with his daughter Dyan.  He has also appeared in, “The Rocky Horror Show”, “The Nerd”, “Peter Pan-A New Musical”, “Scrooge, The Musical” and “Suspense Radio”.  Last year, Garry contributed a voice over for an Award Winning Student Film, “Finding Me”. Garry thanks his Wife Debbie and his entire Family for their support and encouragement.


Jennifer Siglin | Ensemble

Jennifer Siglin is a proud Brea resident and is excited to be appearing in The Olinda Story alongside her son, Owen. She has appeared in several local area productions including multiple productions of It’s a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play and The Twilight Zone, plus the premiere of Fledgling, a new play by local writer Colleen McCandless, all at Stages Theater in Fullerton; as well as War of the Worlds and Bye Bye Birdie here at the Curtis Theatre. She is the proud mother of three children (all of whom have been bitten by the acting bug). In her day job, Jennifer is a graphic designer at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. She is also a calligrapher and sometime artist; you can see her work on instagram as @laughingbeagle. Love to Terry, Owen, Edie and Isla.

Jay David

Jay David | Ensemble

Jay David feels beyond blessed for the opportunity to be performing in his Curtis Theatre Debut! Following his training at the South Coast Repertory, Jay has performed in  theatre and film productions bringing to life various roles including MoMo (Waitin for the C Bus) and Claudius (Hamlet). Jay David would love to thank Jesse Runde and the whole crew and cast for such a wonderful experience to display his passion.



Katt McLaren

Katt McLaren | Ensemble

Katt is very happy to be working with such talented people bringing to life this story of our great city during this celebration of Brea’s centennial. This is Katt McLaren’s first show with the Curtis and hopes it won’t be the last. You may have seen her recently as Margaret in Alchemy theater company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, or Her directorial debut at Stage Door Rep with The Shadow Box. Thank you for coming and enjoy the show.




Mark Rosier

Mark Rosier | Ensemble

Mark Rosier (George, Drunk Man, Company Man #2) Mark is thrilled to be performing in his first production on the Curtis Theatre stage and he would like to thank Jesse Runde and the entire crew at The Curtis for the opportunity. Among his favorite past productions are The Elephant Man, The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nicholby and Clive Barker’s Frankenstein In Love Or The Life Of Death. Mark is a theatrical reviewer for The Fullerton Observer who enjoys attending theater as much as performing in it. Mark would like to dedicate this show to his wonderful parents who have always supported his crazy ambitions.


Nick Broome | Ensemble

Nick is beyond grateful to take part in this story at the beautiful Curtis Theatre. Thank God Brea is so interesting! Graduated from Orange Lutheran High School, he has performed in shows such as “Guy’s and Dolls”, “You can’t Take it with you” (Ed Charmichael), “The Man who came to Dinner”(Dr. Bradley), and “Seussical”. Currently studying at Santiago Canyon (credits there include “Check, Please, and other Dating Adventures”, and “Sixty Second Singles”) and Santa Ana college. Soon to appear in El Don Production’s Theatrical release of the new thriller, “The House the Devil Built”, with a premiere screening at The Frida Cinema, in Santa Ana, 10-27-17. All the thanks and love to the fam bam (that means you bea!) Ever thankful. Enjoy!


Owen Siglin | Ensemble

Owen Siglin, 15, is a high school freshman and Brea resident and is excited to be in The Olinda Story alongside his mom. Owen appeared as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz and has also performed in The Little Mermaid and The Music Man with Brea’s Youth Theater program. Additionally, he performs weekly puppet shows and short productions and story times for children in his volunteer position at the Yorba Linda Library. In high school, Owen is in the Global IT Academy (GITA, learning computer coding), takes Japanese, and plays baseball. His favorite subject is math.


Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Ryan Gatus | Ensemble

Ryan is extremely excited to be a part of this talented cast and wonderful show! He has been pursuing theater for many years and has been involved in a wide variety of shows including West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Proposals, Leading Ladies, Dogg’s Hamlet Cahoot’s Macbeth, and Kill Me Deadly to name a few. Ryan is currently a theater major and yes, has already made his peace with a life of rejection and financial instability. He thanks his past relationships for the preparation. He would also like to thank his friends for constantly pushing his creativity, his family for their unconditional flow of love and support, his many teachers for their mental / emotional / spiritual insight, and Michelle Obama for, well, obvious reasons. Ryan’s ultimate goal in theater is to shine more light on other POC artists, as well as to work on Asian American visibility in the arts. He is determined to use his artistic platforms to highlight brown voices in a world so white.

Sam Hattersley


Sam HattersleyEnsemble

Sam is very excited to be sharing this wonderful story. Sam has been involved with theatre for close to six years, both onstage and off. He has been apart of shows such as Phantom of the Opera, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Diviner’s, and many more! Sam is currently attending Fullerton College in hopes to major in acting.



Steven Biggs

Steven Biggs | Ensemble

Steven Biggs received a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Studies) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master of Fine Arts (Performance) from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Some of the roles he has played include The Sheriff in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot, Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, Col. Vershinin in Three Sisters, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Henry II in The Lion in Winter, M. Gallimard in M. Butterfly, and  Klingon Commander Kralk at Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.  He last appeared on the Curtis theatre stage as The Mysterious Man/Narrator in Into the Woods. Steve teaches theatre courses at Fullerton and Chaffey Community Colleges.  He is also a member of Hollywood’s Theatre of NOTE where he co-produced the Garland Award nominated Holy Ghost.  He also does a killer Jimmy Stewart impression.  

Samantha Wybrant

Samantha WybrantEnsemble

Samantha Wybrant is so excited to be performing in her first official play here at the Curtis Theatre! She will be attending Fullerton College in the Spring to pursue Theatre Arts. Samantha feels very honored to be a part of this incredible show with such an amazing and talented cast and crew! In her free time, she enjoys reading a good book, photography, and spending time with family and friends. Sam would also like to thank all the wonderful people involved in allowing her this fantastic opportunity, as well as her Mom, sisters, and friends for all their love and unwavering support.


New Logo Color

Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 


Developing the Olinda Story: An Interview with director, Jesse Runde

Sometimes the towns we grow up in, live in, and work in don’t even start as towns. The city of Brea has certainly changed over the years, but the sense of community and what we value has always endured. The hills of Olinda & Brea were first used for oil development starting in 1894, but an actual town didn’t develop until 1911 when businesses formed to supply goods to the oil workers & their families. Starting with a population of 752, Brea is now home to over 40,300 residents.

cover sc000323aeThese residents are what make our city so special and what we really want to celebrate in our Brea Centennial legacy project, Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story. Originally commissioned by the California Council for the Humanities, this original play by William Mittler was created in conjunction with Cal State Fullerton’s Oral History Department to share the lives & history of Brea’s earliest residents. We are thrilled to bring this story to life on stage at the Curtis in early November. With auditions taking place this weekend, we look forward to finding a diverse group of actors & musicians to breathe life into the origins of this town.page93o

“A town is made up by the spirit of its people.”

We were fortunate enough to chat with Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story‘s director, Jesse Runde, about her vision for this particular story & her process going into auditions.

To start off, tell us a little about yourself and give some background on your work as a director.

I’ve been involved in the Performing Arts for over 37 years.  I attended Fullerton College, where I now teach, and graduated with my BA from CSU Long Beach.  My interest didn’t really turn to directing until I was in grad school at The University of Oregon.  Most of my directing work since then has been at the various colleges where I’ve taught, or for Alchemy Theatre Company.

As a director, what excites you about this show?

There’s so much room for invention in terms of how we stage the action.  Bill, our playwright, has left plenty of room for theatricality—he hasn’t overmastered the script with a lot of specific stage directions.  That means it’s up to me, working with other members of the production team and the cast, to determine how we will tell the story this time.  It allows us to be more creative, which is a lovely gift from one artist to another.  It’s also exciting to work on a piece that connects so directly with the local history.  The show takes on a special significance, one that is more personal than a typical play.

Can you explain your overall vision/concept for this production & how that ties into what you’re looking for in auditions?

I think one of the most important goals I have for this production is that the audience see themselves in these characters from the past; this is done in the hope that we can learn from their stories, rather than simply being entertained.  We tend to buy in to stories more fully when we empathize with the people they’re about.  So, to that end, when it comes to casting I want to blur the lines of historical accuracy a bit; I want the people on stage to be as diverse as the people in the seats.page103 d

“I want to blur the lines of historical accuracy a bit; I want the people on stage to be as diverse as the people in the seats.”

How do you prepare for auditions? Take us through that process.

It goes something like read, research, ruminate, and repeat.  And with a play about a town that spans decades, there are dozens and dozens of characters, so it is essential to have a good handle on the breakdown of who all is on stage at what time; I have quite an elaborate spreadsheet to handle that.  It’s also important to talk about the project and let people know about the opportunity; it’s not enough to just send out an invitation.  Actors are a special breed of humankind.  They spend a lot of time making themselves vulnerable and exposing themselves to rejection, which is exhausting, so it helps to actively reach out and let those you want to work with know that you would like to see them at auditions.

In auditions, what do you look for to help you make casting decisions?

It varies a bit from show to show, but there is one thing I always look for as a director, and that is simply whether or not the actor seems like someone that I’d enjoy working with on a production—even if I’ve never met them before, I need to figure that out at the audition.  Especially at this level, staging a play is a labor of love.  It’s a lot of late hours, and almost everyone involved has one or more other jobs they work on any given day before they step into the rehearsal room.  I need to know that everyone we cast is a team player.  I need to know they have a sense of humor and a sense of humility, and that they will treat others well.

This show explores the roots & origins of Brea. What’s your origin story? How do you feel connected to Brea now?

cover 20

Although I am a transplant from the Midwest, I, like the people of Olinda, am from a town that wasn’t really a town.  We didn’t have our own fire or police departments, there was one only restaurant (a Dairy Queen), only one grocery store (a SuperValue), and one church (Christian, of course).  And you had to get on a bus to ride to the next town once you got past the sixth grade.  And like Olinda, everyone knew everyone’s business—which was sometimes quite touching, and sometimes a burden. 

My main connection to Brea is through the Curtis.  If not for the productions staged there, I don’t know that I would have had cause to discover anything about the place, but I’m so glad I did.  The people of Brea and the surrounding communities are fortunate to have the Cultural Center and its many offerings.  It’s a great model for other cities because it’s the best of both worlds—there is a focus on both local talent and outside groups that creates diverse programming.back cover 10What do you want the main takeaway to be for this show? What would you like the audience to walk away with?


I really can’t say it better than the Station Master, who is a kind of narrator of the show: “…a town is made up by the spirit of its people.”  If the spirit of the people is strong, so too will the town be strong; so too with the state.  We need to be strong individuals, but we also need to find our strength in each other, not despite each other.  Whether or not we survive depends very much on how we treat our neighbors.

Olinda Digital Audition Notice

EBA - pink

Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 


Doo Wop in time for Mother’s Day

18221931_10155088588041263_6842608261233703530_nAudience favorites, The Alley Cats, are back with more Doo Wop hits, & even more personality! They’re just returning from the Moscow Spring A Capella Festival in Russia where they competed with over 167 a capella groups to bring home the 2nd place prize.


When asked by FloVoice how it feels to be a part of such a huge festival, the Alley Cats shared:

“We believe music has no borders and the opportunity to perform in Russia right now is unique and we will savor every moment. It is also a feeling of gratitude and respect for what we have done as a group over the last 30 years it’s a real honor to be chosen to attend.”

The Alley Cats got their start right here in Orange County when founding members, Mando Fonseca & Royce Reynolds, started an a capella group at Fullerton College. They’ve gained new performers since then, opened for Jay Leno and Joan Rivers, and performed at the White House.

Even with all their success this past weekend and their continuous touring, they made some time to share some thoughts with us before their upcoming performance on our stage for Mother’s Day weekend.

Curtis Theatre: How did you get interested in Doo Wop?

Mando Fonseca: My parents listened to this music and I lends itself well to A Cappella and our humor.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration for the music that you create?

Our audience. We listen to their request and choose new material based on what we are asked for!Alley Cats - Dressing Room

What’s your favorite part of performing for a live audience?

Making people laugh!

Do you have any lucky charms or pre-show rituals you always do before going on stage?Alley Cats - Backstage2

We all circle up our our hands in and say “don’t suck” on three. Then we pat each other’s backs and say “I got your back”. We even have t-shirts that say “I’ve got your back”.

How do you involve the audience in what you do on stage?

We get them laughing and break down that wall.

If your show was an animal, what animal would it be?

Chimp since we tend to Monkey around…..

What do you hope we walk away from the show feeling?

Joyful and inspired. And hopefully you leave all your worries for a couple of hours!AC-Shoot-1-358


The Alley Cats perform May 13 & 14, 2017. Saturday at 4PM & 8PM, Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 

“Rock Legends”: the (re)quest to find the most air guitar worthy song

This weekend, we fell back in love with all the rock classics as we listened to Elvis, the Beatles, the Eagles, the Stones, Patsy Cline and more! We started the three-show weekend off by welcoming in the entire Rock Legends team into the theatre to get started on set up & sound check.IMG_6528.JPGBefore each show, audience members were invited to share their first rock concert as well as fill out request cards in the lobby. The lobby was abuzz with shared stories of first live music experiences & discussions of Beatles vs. Stones (one of the questions on the request card). Billy McGuigan admitted in the show that while his father was Team Beatles, he had learned that you can, in fact, love both rock legends.

IMG_6516.JPGIMG_6519.JPGIMG_6541Once the concert began, audience members were on their feet, dancing and cheering on Billy McGuigan & the band.  It’s easy to fall into that warm nostalgia feeling when you’ve got musicians as talented as these ones. IMG_6579.JPGIMG_6571.JPG


Picking playlists with Billy McGuigan

Whether you’re hitting skip on Spotify or jumping channel to channel on the radio, you know the frustrating journey of trying to hear what YOU want to hear. In the age of shuffle, sometimes you just want to hear THAT song or THIS artist. Billy McGuigan from the hit show, Rock Legends, is here to give you that customized experience where you pick the set list.

Now if you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name Billy McGuigan before, you might have seen him on our stage for the national hit show, Rave On! The Buddy Holly Experience where he pays homage to Buddy Holly.  

The unique experience of Rock Legends is in its song-picking process: McGuigan & the band take audience suggestions to shape the music they play. Each performance delivers a new creative collision of the rock music you love.  Rock Legends Cover

We sat down with McGuigan to get the low-down on all things rock and roll. 

Curtis TheatreWho or what is your biggest inspiration for the music that you create?

Billy McGuigan

Billy McGuigan: My dad always had music on and taught my brothers and I how to play instruments. He loved groups like the Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John, but his favorite, was the Beatles. Every show or performance I put together has been influenced by him.

What’s your favorite part of performing for a live audience?

I love that first moment when I come out on stage and can immediately feel the audience. Sometimes, right from the start, the audience is hooked and you can feel that they are ready for a good time. Other times, I can feel that it’ll take a little more work to hook the crowd. How I perform depends on that feeling, and it never gets old for me!

Do you have any lucky charms or pre-show rituals you always do before going on stage?

I really don’t have any pre-show rituals. I do try and take a moment to feel the energy on and off stage, but that’s about it!

How do you involve the audience in what you do on stage?

Rock Legends set list, each night, is based on, what I call, audience personality tests. The cards are filled out in the lobby before the show and asks questions like; Favorite decade of music, Favorite Female Singer, First Rock Concert… their answers shape the set list, so it’s unique and different each night.

If your show was an animal, what animal would it be?

It’s a platypus! There’s nothing else out there like it.

What do you hope we walk away from the show feeling?

I hope the show brings back memories for the audience, and for those 90 minutes, makes them have the most fun they’ll have that day.BillyAug2016-4

Screenshot 2017-04-20 at 6.55.51 PMStart thinking about which songs you want to hear at this customized concert & while you’re at the show, stop by our audience board to share with us your first rock concert experience. 

lets-playRock Legends performs April 29 & 30, 2017. Saturday at 3PM & 8PM, Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! 


Piecing together the world of Forum, one prop at a time

Stepping into a new world is one of the largest appeals of seeing a theatrical production, a movie, etc.  Objects and items the actors use throughout help develop the type of world we’re experiencing. Creating this world to explore and escape into is a crucial part of the prop master’s job. They shape the reality we’re living in for the next two and a half hours.

For our current production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Amber Caras built, borrowed, and gathered all props needed to fill in this world of Ancient Rome.  We were lucky enough to hear all about the props process from Caras herself.

Amber Caras

Curtis Theatre: Give us some info on your background — how did you get into theatre, & specifically working with props?

Amber Caras: I got into theatre in 8th grade when all of my friends were taking Drama but I was a band geek. I really got into technical theatre at Saddleback College after High School because there are amazing people there. I graduated from CSULB with a BA in Technical Theatre, magna cum laude. I now currently work at South Coast Repertory as  Production Assistant (Non Union ASM) and Entertainment Design Corporation as  Production Assistant. I first got into props at Saddleback during a production of Urinetown when I was asked to build the water filtration device. I was told I could use anything in the shop and I could do what ever I wanted to make it work. I really like the creativity and problem solving that comes with Props and I have tried to do it as much as possible since then.

What is your inspiration/ vision for this particular show?

This show is a Vaudevillian troop that is telling you about Rome. So the props should look like this Troop had these things available to them to tell this story. So we will be using things like a Trunk and Carpet Bags and other thing that we wouldn’t be using if this were a “true to the time period” performance.


Caras takes us through her creative process, guiding us step-by-step through gathering & building props.

Step 1 – Read the Script & Make a List

“I read the script and make a list with my own notes about the props I found. Like ‘Is it edible?’ ‘Do we need more than one?'”

Step 2 – Vision Meeting with the Director & Scenic Designer

“I take that list to the Director and Scenic Designer and have them tell me what they want to use from that list and what they don’t. They tell me other things they have thought of for their vision and I add it to the list. Then I ask a million questions about each item on my list and try to get the best description I can of what they want to see.”

Step 3 – Gather from Producing Theatre’s Prop Storage

“I then would look through the prop storage at the theatre and pull out everything I already have that will work.”

Step 4 – Ask Friends & other Theaters

“I call up friends at other theaters and schools and see if I can look through their prop storage. Saddleback has been a huge help in this respect for this show. Most of our “normal” props came from there.”

Step 5 – Create Plans

“After I found everything I can, I start making Buying plans and Building Plans to complete the list. As I find things, I will try to show them to the director or the designer to get approved so I know that I am 100% done with that item.”

Step 6 – Give Props to Stage Management

“I make sure that Stage Management gets all of the props I have acquired and help them in the maintenance of all items throughout the shows.”

Step 7 – Return Props

“After the show is over, I put everything away where it came from, and make sure all borrowed items are returned.”

lets-playA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum runs March 25-April 9, 2017.  Friday & Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts.

From concept to creation: the Design of Dance in Forum

Good Choreography (1)

In musical theatre, the movement has many functions and effects: it attracts the eye, expands on intricacies heard in the music, and shows us the inner life of the characters’ emotions and thoughts. So how do we go from the page to the stage? Following the words in the script, the choreographers are able to write in their own way — the actors on stage are the pens that compose meaning through movement. The beauty of the language of movement is that it is universal and this marks the true craft of a choreographer.

For our upcoming production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the choreography is imagined and crafted by Tanya Thompson and Tara Pitt. We jumped at the opportunity to catch up with them and hear their process & journey from concept to creation.

Curtis Theatre: Give us some info on your background — how did you get into theatre, & specifically choreography.

FullSizeRenderTanya Thompson: I have actually been dancing since I was 5 years old. My parents recognized pretty early on that I was an entertainer and I was fortunate enough that they enrolled me in dance and in a local baton twirling organization called the Saco Jets. It was twirling that gave me my first experience with choreography when I was a coach and creating routines for competitive teams. My mentor, Linda Ladakakos, was a huge musical theater fan (hence the West Side Story reference in the organization’s name) and she was a large part of shaping and influencing my love of the art as well. Once I realized in middle school that Theater was something I could pursue as a viable career, I was pretty much inseparable from all things music, theater and dance.


The choreography team – Tanya Thompson (left) & Tara Pitt (right)

Tara Pitt:  I grew up performing. My dad was a singer and made sure we sang as well. My
family was always performing. I started dance lessons when I was three and loved that as well. I was mainly performing in church productions growing up. We had no drama program at my high school so I was on the dance/drill team. That helped to really shape my dance and leadership skills. After high school I began doing a lot of theater. When an actor friend of mine decided to start directing he asked if I’d be interested in choreographing for him. It sounded like a fun, new experience so I jumped on board. I’ve been choreographing ever since.


What is your inspiration/ vision for the style of movement for this particular show?

TTForum is an old school, classic musical in many ways. Choreographically, we don’t think of it as a huge “dance show” but it definitely has its share of larger scale dance numbers. Some numbers require more pedestrian movements, while others have more jazz and some modern influences. Jon’s ideas for some of the numbers allow Tara and I to really have some fun with scenes that aren’t typically choreographed too. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are certainly a wide variety of influences.

TPThe style of this show is a great throwback to vaudeville. We all wanted to stay true to the show’s intent so our vision is aligned to that. It’s a very fun style to work with and allows for a lot of humor within the movement.

Blog photo 1
Inspiration images for Forum choreography

BLog photo 2

Thompson and Pitt take us inside their creative process, showing us step-by-step how they choreograph a show.

Step 1: Read the Script

TT: I want to make sure I understand the story and nuance that the piece will require on a basic level.

TP: I make sure to get familiar with the material.  I’ll read the script, listen to cast recordings, etc.

Step 2Conversation on Vision

TT: There is always a conversation between myself and the director and other members of the creative team to understand what the director’s vision for the piece is. This allows me to really lock into where the director sees the piece going, where the characters are emotionally at the moment when the choreography is taking place, what purpose the choreography serves to move the show forward at that moment, and the style and aesthetic of the show and individual scenes.

TP: I’ll talk to the director and creative team about the vision of the show.

Step 3: Research

TT: If I’m unfamiliar with the show I’ll try to get my hands on a copy to view to see if there are any iconic moments that should/could be utilized. (I usually enjoy throwing in a movement or small combination as a nod to productions past if possible.) I also usually will research popular dance of the time periods that the show takes place, and when the show was written/first produced.

TP:  Once the vision is in place, I’ll start researching dance in that style/era. This may be one of my favorite things about the prepping for a show. I love getting more familiar with different styles of dance.

Step 4: Work on Movement & Solidify

20170305_222053TT:  It is time to really get to work. My process is strange for creating. I usually have to be in a quiet space, with no distractions (if I’m working at home and my apartment isn’t clean or my laundry isn’t done, its hard for me to focus.) I will play a recording of the music for the particular number I’m tackling on repeat and lay on the floor and close my eyes. After a few times, I begin to visualize the movement. Then I get up, and move to solidify it and clean transitions and record it on paper (and sometimes on video) so it’s ready to teach!

TP: I start putting all the elements together. I listen to the music and start brainstorming ideas using the research I’ve done to put everything together.

lets-playA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum runs March 25-April 9, 2017. Half-off Preview Friday, March 24 at 8PM; Opening with Pre-show Reception & Post-show Toast Saturday, March 25. Runs Friday & Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Rehearsal: An Interview with Jonathan Infante

What do you get when you combine Ancient Rome + mistake identity + togas? Comedy tonight! Southgate Productions & the Curtis are bringing just that to the stage this March with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Stephen Sondheim delivers again with this witty & riotous farce filled with plot twists at every turn. 

Our team got together with Southgate Productions’ Artistic Director as well as Producer, Set Designer, and Director of the upcoming production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Jonathan Infante, to chat about the show and his many roles in the creative process.

Curtis Theatre: To start off, tell us a little about yourself and give some background on your work as a director.

Jonathan Infante:  I started directing for theater fairly early. Around my junior year of high school, I got the bug to be in control of a show.  I was also still really interested in being a performer, but I knew I wanted to do both.  In 2000 at age 19, STAGEStheatre in Fullerton gave me a shot to direct a show in their season. It was Picasso at The Lapin Agile.  I had done some shows as an actor and they took a chance on me and helped me achieve an amazing show that we were all proud of. Throughout my career, I have jumped back and forth as a designer and director. I spend most of the year as a designer, but the two shows a year I get to direct really help me get even more creativity out.


Jonathan Infante of Southgate

What inspired you to direct Forum?I was inspired to come back to this show because it was the first LEAD role I ever played. I got to play Pseudolous twice in my early acting career and it has always been one of my favorite roles.  I truly believe that it is one of the most perfect Books for a musical and if you listen carefully to Sondheim’s lyrics, they’re not only brilliant but there is so much hidden comedy in it. Truly, the show has so many layers and I wanted to do something closer to a classic show.


Can you explain your overall vision/concept for this production of Forum?

My vision for this show is to remain as true to it as I can be.  This show has been produced many times and directors often take a lot of creative license with it and add and remove scenes. Again, I think the book is flawless and I want to stay true to it.

What do think will be the biggest challenge in this process?

The biggest challenge for this show will be time. It’s a lot of running around and dancing on top of a lot of words. We only rehearse for three weeks. This is something Southgate has always adopted because we know it’s hard to give up a lot of time for rehearsal when you’re not being paid large amounts of money. The chase scene is 25 pages of non-stop movement and dialogue. That will definitely be a challenge for all!

Sounds like fun! How does your role as Artistic Director of Southgate tie into your work on Forum? With this show, you’re juggling a lot of different roles –how do they all fit together?

My main job as Artistic Director of Southgate is to ensure that our productions meet a certain standard.  My job as director is to deliver a solid show.  These two jobs can go hand in hand at many times.  I fit it all together by surrounding myself with amazingly talented staff that help me meet the expectations of both jobs.  


Set drawings & inspiration

You also did the set design; give us some insight on what the space will look like and the meaning behind it.

We always try to reimagine shows when we mount them. For this show, we’re going the classic way. Three houses on a street in Rome. The entire show takes place on a single standing set. Tall structures with columns, wacky angles, and vivid colors. The whole show is a nod to vaudeville and our set will be as well.

What do you hope the audience walks away from this production with? What’s the main takeaway?

I have one goal with this show. That the everyone remembers that we need to laugh and this show is a great way to remember that.

lets-play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum runs March 25-April 9, 2017. Half-off Preview Friday, March 24 at 8PM; Opening with Pre-show Reception & Post-show Toast Saturday, March 25. Runs Friday & Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts.


Meet John Carney: the man behind the magic

When you buy a ticket to a theater production, you’re hoping you’ll encounter some sort of magic.  You wish to be swept away, to believe in a new or different reality, to believe in the impossible. With John Carney, you get just that and a little more. It’s more than a magic show, it’s more than a theatre show — it’s theatre magic. 

Now what makes Carney so adept at marrying these two art forms? He’s certainly not new to either scene. As an accomplished actor, he’s participated in a multitude of sketch comedy shows, plays, and even landed roles on TV shows such as Spin City and Two and a Half Men. As a magician, he’s acknowledged by his peers as one of the finest sleight of hand performers in the world with many awards to go along with that. He’s no stranger to Hollywood’s The Magic Castle where he performs often and has been given more awards there than anyone in their history. He’s even shown off his magic tricks on the Late Show with David Letterman!2

What makes John Carney so special is his passion for creating original material. He dazzles us with his ability to make us laugh during an illusion. Maybe it’s so magical because he’s done the prep work — but every time it feels brand new. 

Our operations assistant, Lottie Frick, sat down with John to get some insight on his art, life, magic and everything in between.

LF: How did you first get interested in magic?

JCI started when I was a teenager. I think it helped a lot that I had the benefit of a few mentors who were willing to take me beyond the initial infatuation. Close-up magic was a way for me to perform for small groups without stepping foot on a stage. I would perform for friends after dinner or at parties.

LF: Who or what is your biggest inspiration for the art that you create?

JC: My greatest influence in magic was a man named Dai Vernon, probably the greatest sleight-of-hand master of the last century. He was a real artist, in the truest sense of the word. He taught me that good sleight-of-hand is more than just fast hands. Ideally, it’s more intellectual in nature. It’s about psychology, problem solving, choreography of movement…and it has elegant simplicity. Dai Vernon taught me so much. There were never any formal lessons, and no money ever changed hands. We would just sit and talk about magic for hours. We were kindred spirits, even if we were generations apart.

Mystoimplores-1.croped.dd_.jpgLF: What’s your favorite part of performing for a live audience?

JC: I like the challenge of making a theater of wonder out of simple everyday things. The audience is focused, and I can manipulate the environment with lights and sound. I can create the kind of atmosphere where I can do almost anything, from the silly to the sentimental.

LF: How do you go about creating characters?

JC: Most are based on someone I have known, but exaggerated for effect. Others are amalgams of famous people from real life, movies, and my imagination. A script will get me started, along with a point of view, attitude, voice and speech pattern. From there, I take it on stage and improvise in that frame work, then just keep rewriting, and tweaking it technically. Generally it takes at least 100 performances of a new piece before I feel it has really taken shape. Even then, I can find new touches to add after hundreds of shows.

LF: Incredible that it can still be new after 100 performances. Now, do you have any lucky charms or pre-show rituals you always do before going on stage?

JC: Hopefully, it all looks spontaneous, but my only ritual is checking and rechecking the hundreds of small details that make it look effortless. Most of the real work comes long before, planning out tiny details that no one would ever notice, unless they were neglected. There are countless technical things that could go wrong in the show, and part of my job is making sure that if they do happen, I figure out a way to fix them so they never happen again. I’m more a believer in preparation than superstition.

LF: If your show was an animal, what animal would it be?

JC: A chimpanzee: Silly, playful, and charming, but underneath it all, more clever than you think.

LF: What do you hope we walk away from the show feeling?

JC:  I want to affect people and give them a unique experience. I want it to be fun, with people walking away happy, perhaps with a new perspective on their own beliefs and perceptions – and what is possible.


Carney Magic runs Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 4PM and 8PM at the Curtis Theatre. Tickets range from $16-$32. For tickets, call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 or purchase 24/7 on our website Use code “HalfOffCarney” for 50% off tickets.

A celebration of 25 years: Brea’s Youth Theatre & the magic of theatre education


The performers & parents of our youth theatre program themselves are our greatest advocates for how this program & theatre can truly be a life-changing experience.  One of Stagelight’s former performers from 1995, Geoff Kraemer, still talks about his time as a third grader first stepping his foot into the theatre world: “It was my favorite place to be growing up. I made lifelong friends, I gained confidence and self-esteem, and I have received countless hours of entertainment as a result of the love for theater that Stagelight provided for me”. After over 20 shows with Brea’s Youth Theatre, our partnership program with Stagelight Family Productions, he emerged a more confident person ready to take on whatever challenges the future held. Another performer, Audrey Bivens, is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre with a Dance and Arts Administration minor because of her time spent with Stagelight at the Curtis and shares “I would not be where I am without Janice, Lindsey, Katie, and this amazing company”.

At the helm of our incredible partnership production company, Stagelight Family Productions, is founder/producer/director Janice Kraus. Her journey with youth theatre began with her own daughter. Upon discovering how much her daughter was growing as an individual and truly enjoying herself in her own theatre classes, Janice decided to start her own theatre company. Thus Stagelight Family Productions was born. Out of love, curiosity, and a desire to spread the joy of theatre to more children. With Stagelight’s mission to build “a strong and rewarding future for young people in the arts”,  Janice and her team are not only having a great time putting on a theatre production, they are instilling the important values of self-confidence, individuality, and character in kids & teens alike to be built on for the rest of their lives.

The families of Brea’s Youth Theatre celebrate founder, director, and producer Janice Kraus on 25 years of service.

It was my favorite place to be growing up. I made lifelong friends, I gained confidence and self-esteem, and I have received countless hours of entertainment as a result of the love for theater that Stagelight provided for me.

Now putting on a production with hundreds of kids each year is certainly no easy feat. It takes months of preparation, planning, and rehearsal. Janice let us in on some of the steps that go into creating a show from script to stage.

Step 1: Selection of the Production

Janice reminds us that “making the right choice for a large youth theatre production is key to the process”. The availability of the show has to be considered. Rights for the show must be obtained before it can be produced, so some shows must be thrown out during the selection process.

Step 2: Study the Script

The script is where it all begins. The director scans the script to get an overall point of view on the work and vision of the production before meeting with the creative team to discuss these choices. The creative team brings in their own ideas and a production concept is molded together.

Step 3: Auditions

For the show to be cast, actors must audition! All students registered for the production are able to audition; giving them the opportunity to experience the process of showing a short snippet of their singing, dancing, etc to be considered for certain roles.

Step 4: Rehearsal Process

After the show is cast, rehearsal begins. The cast spends six weeks learning choreography and music for the show. In rehearsal, scenes are blocked and formed after much repetition and discovery. Janice also works specifically with the lead actors to develop their characters.

Step 5: Move into the theater

The sets for the show are moved into the theater and the technical work continues.  The creative team including the lighting designer, set designer, costume designer, technical director, and stage manager all work together to form the production’s full vision.

Step 6: Opening Night!

After all the fun and hard work of rehearsals and tech week, the show opens! The thrill of opening night excites everyone involved and the cast, crew, and team will continue to have a great time throughout the rest of the performances.

Next up in the journey of Brea’s Youth Theatre is its winter production of The Wizard of Oz. Our program has embarked on the magical quest to Oz before and it remains “a favorite among all ages”. With our parent meeting behind us, the excitement for starting rehearsals is building. Janice shares her favorite moment of working on this show is seeing “the faces of our performers when we introduce the special effects such as the melting witch and the flying monkeys”. Registration for The Wizard of Oz is still open and if there’s any doubt about whether or not to sign up, Janice ensures “this experience will be a memorable one for your child” and looks forward to introducing the magic of live theatre to new families.

wizard of oz reg visix 17

Registration for The Wizard of Oz closes October 26 at 5pm. Registration fee is $155 for Brea Residents (those who live, work or go to school in Brea), and $170 for Non-Brea Residents. To register, log onto, and connect to EZ Connect, Class number #24502

The first day of the class is Friday, October 28, 2016, at the Brea Senior Center. Production dates are January 12 – 29, 2017, Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. at the Curtis Theatre. All professional photos of our Brea’s Youth Theatre productions are provided by Bill Warshaw.