My daughter and I have been signing and dancing our butts off this week. Why you may ask? We are part of the Theater Experience’s production of Charlie Brown which performs at the Fullerton College Theater this Saturday at 2 p.m.
But I have to back up to why we decided to join the cast, and how she convinced me to get onstage with her. I have never done any musical theater in my life. My daughter expressed an interest in about a year and a half ago, and when researching opportunities for her, we tried Theater Experience. They produce 2 shows a year in a non-competitive, non-threatening, yet professional teaching environment. One show is performed in the Fall, and a second in the Spring. The best part is that all ages 5 and up can participate.
My girl started with the group in the production of Suessical, and then convinced me to join the cast after that. Now, we are on our third production together! I have enjoyed getting a chance to meet a number of the other cast members and their families and the stories that go with them. There are so many that join and perform in the show together, from siblings, to mother-daughter, father-daughter, you name it. I still feel like a newbie, when I hear that some members are on their 20th production!
When I started learning about everyone’s history, I was blown away by some their stories and what their experience with Theater Experience has done for them.
One mother has been performing with her son since her son was younger than my girl, who is 10 now. And she just celebrated sending him off to college last Fall, just after he had finished performing the lead in the Schoolhouse Rock production. He is back to help fill in with prop crew for this production, while his mother is still performing with the rest of the cast.
Another mother signed up with her son and daughter when they were 6 and 4 respectfully. The daughter is now 12. When I asked her what got them into musical theater, she explained that her son was painfully shy. Some family friends had suggested musical theater. They went to see a production, and were sold. The musical theater experience helped so much, that he recently played the lead in his high school play. He is now a sophomore. As a family they have performed 16 shows together to date. Amazing! And they have spread the musical theater love, and have gotten at least 6 other families involved.
Another mother/daughter team performs together, while their dad is off filming the popular show, Finding Bigfoot, which airs on the Animal Planet on Sunday nights at 10pm locally. While Dad – Matt Moneymaker – is hunting down and investigating Bigfoot sightings, Mom and daughter are on stage singing and dancing songs to Charlie Brown this week. The husband and wife team head up the BFRO, or Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and have been for almost 20 years. I had no idea! So interesting!
I know from my daughter’s perspective, she has made lasting friendships with some of her fellow cast members that she probably would have never met before. From my perspective, I love that I can enjoy and share this with her. It is so fun being backstage, and working together on something that we can share with our family and friends. We aren’t crafting together as usual, but we are being creative together.
Once someone joins the cast, it usually inspires others to join once they have witnessed a show. I know my daughter’s friend finally convinced her neighbor to join, and now he is already signed up for the next show that performs in the Spring. So cool!
And don’t think that you have to be onstage to be a part of the production. During production week, many parents help backstage with props or supervision. With a cast of over 100, and with ages ranging from the very young to adult, it takes a village to put on a show. Even though they may not be performing in front of the audience, they are an integral part of the show.
I could go on and on with interesting stories and memories made from families performing in a Theater Experience production. I love seeing the range of families that are involved and loving it.
And, I have to mention that we have a local celebrity in the cast. You may recognize Cozi Zuehlsdorff from the endearing film Dolphin Tale, in which she starred with Harry Connick, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, and Ashley Judd. She grew up with Theater Experience as well, and came back to perform as Sally in this production of Charlie Brown.
If you would like to see a production, or get involved yourself and join the cast, check out the Theater Experience website for details.
Here is the Charlie Brown flyer for the performance on Saturday. And there is still plenty of time to sign up for the next show, which is Annie. Weekly rehearsals start in February, and rehearsals are located in the Mission Viejo Dance studio on Saturday afternoons.
I love doing creative, crafty things with my daughter, and musical theater fits right into that! Hope to see you on Saturday!