Young actresses smile brightly following recent auditions for the upcoming Scripps Theatre Arts production of â€œAladdin Jr.â€ (courtesy of Alicia Gonzalez)
Theater group forms for kids
There’s a new project in town for artistic kids to be able to express themselves through the arts.
A local non-profit theater group called Scripps Theatre Arts was started by Alicia Gonzalez, a Scripps Ranch resident. The program was designed for kids ages 5 to 16 and bears the tagline “Create. Express. Inspire. Shine.”
Gonzalez, a San Diego native, moved back to San Diego and into the Scripps Ranch area from San Jose six years ago. She has four children: two girls, ages 13 and 11; and two boys, ages 9 and 6.
What got Gonzalez started was the fact that she was often asked about opportunities for children who wanted to get involved in theater. Members of the community kept reaching out to her over the past few years since they were aware of her kids’ involvement with stage acting, she said. Aside from the Balboa Park and Escondido theater scene, Gonzalez said she saw the need for something local in the area as far as a not-for-profit program for children’s theater is concerned. When she couldn’t find anything nearby, she decided to start a program herself.
With a background in human resources, Gonzalez is now the director of HR for the San Diego Symphony. Her experience has helped her in running her own theater from a managerial standpoint and in producing a show by herself. She founded her non-profit with a creative team of three people who are all San Diego-based. Her director is from Escondido, the music director is from Mission Valley and the main choreographer is from Ramona.
Gonzalez said Scripps Theatre Arts is intended to give back to the community.
“It’s exactly the type of family environment that I wanted to raise my kids in,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted it to be obvious that it was for the community of Scripps Ranch.”
Gonzalez has always made sure that her kids had access to artistic activities. Her daughter started musical theater at age five, while her other daughter was four-and-a-half when she first had her own musical audition. Her now nine-year-old son won an acting award at PowPAC, Poway’s community theater, when he was just seven years old.
“My childhood was greatly lacking in the arts. So, as an adult, I really appreciated any [of the] live performing arts. That’s why I think I got my kids involved so young,” Gonzalez explained.
She cites gaining valuable life skills such as collaboration, cooperation and confidence as the main benefits that theater can give children, no matter if they pursue careers within or outside of the arts.
“When it comes to kids, I love the effect that theater has on their confidence, the public speaking ability,” Gonzalez said.
“As an educational program – it’s certainly not intended to create professional actors – if they want to do that, that’s great,” she said of Scripps Theatre Arts. “But these kids will be able to go into high school and go into college and make speeches without having to overcome that major hurdle of talking in front of people. … They can focus on the content and not their feelings because they’ll have a chance to overcome that. The confidence in kids who go through these programs is just incredible to me.”
Auditions for the program’s first show were held in the first week of August at the Scripps Ranch Recreation Center.
“When we first started this, it was kind of like throwing water into the air. I was worried that we’d get about eight people; that not even the costs of running this would be covered,” Gonzalez said. “We have 27 kids in the cast as of right now and I think it might still grow.”
Scripps Theatre Arts’ first production will be “Aladdin Jr.,” scheduled to run Oct. 5-7 in the theater at Marshall Middle School. For more information, search for Scripps Theatre Arts on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.