About 9,000 youngsters here have learned the importance of hard work and self-esteem from trolls, mystical winds, a Spanish-speaking bear and a candle-maker’s daughter.
The lesson came from the Santa Clarita Repertory Theatre’s bilingual presentation of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” Friday’s presentation ended a string of 33 performances in 28 Santa Clarita Valley elementary schools over the past few weeks.
“Patience, hard work and believing in yourself will make your dreams come true,” Candace Juman told Santa Clarita Elementary School students Friday, summing up what her character, Karen, learned from the story.
The 45-minute show focused on Karen meeting Eric the Kind, a prince cursed to live as a bear during the day, and her attempts to rescue him from a magic-invoking troll.
The quick pace kept young viewers’ attention, introducing boisterous characters and letting students take part by growling for the bear and helping blow along with the mystical winds.
“It grows a lot, because of the energy they give you,” said Ronnie Clark, 24, who portrays Eric the Kind and his alter ego, the bear.
Although Clark’s character spoke in Spanish in a play that otherwise unfolds entirely in English, the responses were clear enough so the audience understood his intentions.
With Juman playing the central character, actors Clark, Chris Anthony and Milo Bernstein brought the tale’s other creatures to life.
Cast members said the presentation took about a week of diligent rehearsing to develop and that they’ve learned along the way what does and doesn’t work. They say elementary school students often are a tougher audience than adults.
“They don’t take any crap,” said Anthony, 25, who played the tale’s main villain, a powerful but comical troll. “The adults can be reserved, but with them--if it’s bad, you’ll know it.”
One short section of the play allowed for some ad-libbing with the audience, making each performance slightly different.
Anthony and Clark are students at CalArts, majoring in theater; Bernstein and Juman are alumni of the Valencia school.
“It’s really nice to have the Repertory Theatre,” said Juman, 22. “It’s really nice to have work for CalArts students.”
Funding for Santa Clarita Repertory Theatre programs is provided in part by grants from the city and the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.