When asked why she didn’t take full advantage of her summer vacation to lounge around or visit the beach, the UCLA sound design student Yasmine El Tayeb, 20, had a ready answer. “Experience is more important at this point,” she said. “And if you like what you’re doing, it really doesn’t sound like work.”
El-Tayeb is one of many young theater artists working on Laguna Niguel Community Theater’s production of “Into the Woods”, a musical that interweaves the plots of several fairy tales, including “Jack in the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.”
The cast and crew consist of high school students, summer home students, and adults from the community.
“What’s great is that you have a wide range of experiences,” said art director Jeremy Golden. “(The actors) who are at the university are mixed with those who want to be there someday. And on the other hand, you have older actors learning from the energy of younger performers. “
The combination creates an enhanced learning environment that connects the worlds of high school theater and professional theater, say the cast members.
“I think of this as more training for the real world,” said Jeremy Ingraham, 18, who will be in her first year at Chapman University this fall. “It’s cool because in high school you’re used to seeing the same people in the same roles, but here there’s variety. And not everyone is taught to act by the same person, so you can learn different techniques. “
For many of these budding theater artists, participating in a community production like “Into the Woods” is a chance to be on stage in larger roles that may be reserved for upper class students at their respective colleges. Many college programs limit student participation in the first and second year of study.
Mackenzie greiner, 20, who just finished her freshman year at Manhattan School of Music, plays Cinderella.
“My school’s program is super competitive,” she says. “It’s rewarding, but difficult. It is such a community. Everyone supports each other (and) everyone values each other’s talents. “
This friendly relationship between the cast members is especially important in preparing “Into the Woods” for its run at the Crown Valley Park Amphitheater. Almost everyone involved has more than one production job.
Siena Brown, 19, for example, is a marketing intern for the company’s summer season and will also play two roles on the show.
“I would say it helped me appreciate theater on a bigger level,” Brown said. “Everyone here is ready to work and work hard because they take it seriously. “
Emilie Manville, 15, will be in her second year at Aliso Niguel High School, making her the youngest student in the production.
“At first it was a little intimidating to be in a cast with people who are older than me,” Manville said. “But I admire them a lot and it makes a difference that they chose to be here. Everything just seems a little more serious and professional.
Olivia robertson, 18, who will join the freshman class at UCLA in the fall, dreams, like others in the cast, of making acting a lifelong career. She sees in “Into the Woods” an opportunity to start a deeper understanding of theater.
“I think it’s a way to stay up to date during the summer,” she said. We all combine our skills and collaborate, and that will make us the artists we want to be.
‘In the woods’
Or: Crown Valley Park Amphitheater, 29751 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel
When: 6.30 p.m. July 28-29 and August 5; 5:30 p.m. July and 6 August
Tickets: $ 10 to $ 20