Theatrical productions offered by the Laguna Playhouse are not
confined to the handsome building at 606 Laguna Canyon Road.
The playhouse also sponsors a touring show -- Orange County’s only
curriculum-based theater tour -- which visits over 50 schools during
the latter part of each year. It’s called Theatereach, and it begins
its 2002 season today.
From now through Dec. 13, Theatereach will offer performances of
“Island of the Blue Dolphins,” a children’s play based on the
Newberry Medal-winning book by Scott O’Dell. The play will be
presented to fourth- and fifth-graders at a number of Orange County
schools, and even a few outside the county (Murietta, Temecula and
The adaptation of “Blue Dolphins” has been written, and is being
directed, by Donna Inglima, education director of the Laguna
Playhouse, whose production of “Anastasia Krupnik” just wrapped up
its two-weekend engagement at the playhouse. The book itself has been
named among the 10 best American children’s books of the last 200
years by the Children’s Literature Assn.
In the spring, the playhouse’s Theatereach program will offer more
than 200 performances of other plays based on children’s books --
“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, which is on the third-grade
curriculum, and “By the Great Horn Spoon” by Sid Fleischman, on the
In addition to performances, Theatereach offers student and
teacher workshops. Teachers are given study guides containing sample
lesson plans and activities for students before the performances.
“The loss of funding for drama and music programs in the
elementary grades of California public schools has left a cultural
gap and created an arts-poor curriculum, especially in low-income,
economically disadvantaged areas,” Inglima says.
“Theatereach has made a dynamic and consistent contribution to
schools, especially those in the Anaheim, Magnolia, Savanna, Santa
Ana and Westminster school districts,” she noted. “Live theater helps
young people develop creativity and visualization skills and
strengthens language -- especially for students from homes where
English is not spoken.”
Since its inception in 1999, the Laguna Playhouse Theatereach
program has consistently received praise from area educators.
“How can educators inspire students to want to read?” asks Randall
Coleman, coordinator of visual and performing arts for the Santa Ana
Unified School District. “The Laguna Playhouse Theatereach program
has done this with their outstanding plays.
“I have seen all three, and they are exciting to watch,
educational and professionally done,” Coleman adds. “I highly
recommend this educational outreach program. Administrators, teachers
and students will not be disappointed.”
“This is the type of performing art activity that the state
Department of Education likes for schools to incorporate into their
curriculum,” says Randy Peck, principal of Cordillera Elementary
School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. “This is by
far the best program we have ever had at this school.”
Each Theatereach performance costs the Laguna Playhouse $1,200 to
produce, but thanks to many grants from area foundations,
corporations and individual donors, no school is ever asked to pay
more than half of that cost.
In the next few weeks, Theatereach will visit schools in Aliso
Viejo, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach,
Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Santa
Ana, Temecula, Tustin, Westminster, Yorba Linda and, of course,
More information on the Theatereach program may be obtained by
contacting the playhouse at (949) 497-2787.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.