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Classically Trained: Boys chorus gives its regards to Hollywood

Editor’s note: This corrects the name of Jim Corbett’s son.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — I spotted James Dean mingling among the crowd on Saturday night. He had a cigarette tucked behind his ear and was sporting that iconic black leather jacket.

Dean was selling tickets. With a cause.

The rebel look-alike was among the 200 attendees supporting the All-American Boys Chorus at their seventh annual fall gala, “Hooray for Hollywood.” The event, which raised about $19,000 at the Mile Square Golf Course and Banquet Center, is the second largest fundraiser of the year for the Costa Mesa-based choir.


Jim Corbett, of San Juan Capistrano, slicked his hair back to become the rebellious 1950s cultural icon. He was helping support his 11-year-old son, Casey, a second tenor with the choir. When asked how he got chosen to be James Dean, he replied: “Rita Hayworth told me to do it.”

It turns out Rita Hayworth (aka Rita M. Pipta) was instrumentally important for the gala, serving as chairwoman of the fall gala committee. Helping with the entrance and auction — with several tables’ worth of items donated by organizations including Mimi’s Café, the Pacific Symphony, Hof’s Hut and the Laguna Playhouse — were Huntington Beach resident Carl Zoellner and his 16 volunteers from the Foresters, an international service organization.

The Fullerton College Big Band helped ready the crowd as the doors opened by playing “Hooray for Hollywood” and other showtime standards like “In the Mood,” “As Time Goes By” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

After the silent auctions, the boys came out on stage dressed in their concert attire of red suit jackets and white shirts. The 30-minute concert included Disney tunes “Be Our Guest” and “Circle of Life,” “What a Wonderful World” and “West Side Story” — snapping fingers included as the boys squared off as the Jets and Sharks.


It was a momentous evening for six of the boys. After tests and extensive musical preparation, they graduated into the ranks of the performing choir. Saturday was their first concert.

One of the first-timers was Alan Rodriguez, 9, of Fullerton.

“I was kind of nervous,” he said after the performance. “But I liked it, too.”

He said his favorite song was “Circle of Life” because when he “was little” — all of four years ago at age 5 — “The Lion King” was one of his favorite movies.

Alan’s mom, Maria Elena Rodriguez, chimed in with some of young Alan’s musician résumé, like his early beginnings singing with his elementary school buddies and impersonations of Michael Jackson and Elvis in a talent show. I think Alan’s early success singing “I’ll Be There” is just a sign of more success to come.


The Pacific Symphony is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its principal pops conductor, Richard Kaufman, this week. The conductor of the Costa Mesa-based orchestra will be leading the “Three Phantoms in Concert” series, Thursday through Saturday. Each night begins at 8 p.m.

On the program are melodies from the canon of Andrew Lloyd Webber and other Broadway hits, including “Les Misérables,” “Miss Saigon,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Paint Your Wagon” and more.


Highlighting the evening will be music from “Phantom of the Opera,” with soloists Craig Schulman, Kevin Gray and Brad Little. All three have played the title role of the Phantom in past productions on Broadway, national tours or abroad.

The appropriately titled “Masquerade Soiree” — in lieu of the night’s “Phantom” performance — happens Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Westin South Coast Plaza. It begins with cocktails and a harvest dinner, then a procession of jugglers, stilt walkers and characters of the court that will lead soiree attendees to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for the concert.

After the show, soiree guests will return to the Westin for cocktails, desserts, dancing and live music by a special guest artist. Attire is black tie optional and a mask, which will be sold during the concert and beforehand. For tickets to the soiree or more information, visit

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. E-mail him story ideas at