OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Theatre Company and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside are offering a free youth theater program for ages 9 to 19 from Aug. 29 through Nov. 19 at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside and the Brooks Theater.
Introducing participants to the theater arts through the production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” the program will take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:45 to 6 p.m. The three-month-long program will culminate in eight performances – six for the general public and two school performances.
“The Youth Outreach Program isn’t just about theater, it is about teaching kids important personal and life skills to carry with them for the rest of their lives,” said Sharon Duchi, the youth program director and co-director of the musical along with her daughter, Anna Duchi.
“We also emphasize teamwork and friendship in our program,” Anna Duchi said. “The actors learn to sing, act and dance while becoming a theatre family.”
Designed to attract youth from diverse socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds throughout the community, the program is open to all performance levels from beginners to advanced. It draws students from schools throughout North County.
“Like many theaters across the nation that responded to the call to address racism and diversity of management, casts, and audiences, Oceanside Theatre Company is taking steps to make our theatre a place that represents and serves our broad community,” said Alex Goodman, OTC managing director. “Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as holding auditions and ‘voila’, you have a diverse cast. The roots of the solution go deeper than that – to achieve diversity, you must have a diverse talent pool to pull from, which means building relationships and trust within the community and developing talent from a young age. It takes time and intentionality. Our Youth Theatre Academy and Outreach program helps us build these relationships from the ground up and improve equity in theatres throughout our community – not just for today, but for the future.”
OTC and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside began their collaboration in 2019 to fill a gap in arts education left by reduced arts funding in schools. Last year, 63 students were involved in the co-production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which sold out its six public productions and two school field-trip productions.
OTC is hoping to accommodate up to 50 students in the production to give more kids and teens the opportunity to gain theater experience.
“Our incredible partnership with the OTC has been a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn and grow through the arts,” said Jodi Diamond, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside. “We are thrilled to see our members take the stage and showcase their talents. This partnership has been a great use of shared resources and has allowed for the exchange of ideas and talent. As an organization committed to providing opportunities for youth in our community, we wholeheartedly support the Youth Outreach Theatre Program.”
The OTC Youth Outreach Program is made possible with generous support from the City of Oceanside, San Diego County and the California Arts Council, as well as the contributions of individual community donors. This year, the theater is seeking support from the public to offset the costs of the production. Supporters can visit OceansideTheatre.org/Little-Mermaid-Sponsorhips to learn more.
Show times for “The Little Mermaid” are Fridays and Saturdays starting at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Nov. 10 to 19 at The Brooks Theater.