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Schools bring their Disney musicals to Costa Mesa concert hall

Segerstrom Center for the Arts holds its second year of Disney Musicals in Schools. This year Ethan Allan Elementary School in Fountain Valley, Westmont Elementary in Westminster, Stanley Elementary in Garden Grove and San Juan Elementary in San Juan Capistrano participated in the program.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts holds its second year of Disney Musicals in Schools. This year Ethan Allan Elementary School in Fountain Valley, Westmont Elementary in Westminster, Stanley Elementary in Garden Grove and San Juan Elementary in San Juan Capistrano participated in the program.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

Nearly 300 Orange County students who had never been actors, dancers or singers in a theatrical production took the stage at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa on Tuesday evening.

They came from four schools selected by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for its second year of Disney Musicals in Schools.

Under a partnership with Segerstrom and Disney Theatrical Group, the program gives scripts, musical scores, directing assistance and rights to perform Disney shows to campuses that need them most.

The goal is to have each school’s students and teachers put on a Disney show on campus in 17 weeks with the help of artists contracted with Segerstrom.

At the end of the program, the schools are invited to the concert hall to perform a song from their musicals in one big performance called the Student Share Celebration.

“Besides scripts and rehearsal CDs, the copyrights for musicals are very expensive, so we are so appreciative of this opportunity,” said Carmen Perez, a fourth-grade teacher at San Juan Elementary School in San Juan Capistrano.

Out of almost 20 applicants for this year’s program, Segerstrom selected San Juan Elementary, Agnes Ware Stanley Elementary School in Garden Grove, Ethan Allen Elementary in Fountain Valley and Westmont Elementary in Westminster.

“I never imagined that our cafeteria could transform into a jungle,” said Jennifer Brown, a first-grade teacher at Stanley Elementary, where students performed “The Jungle Book.”

Westmont put on the same musical, while Allen and San Juan elementary schools performed “The Lion King.”

Westmont fifth-grade teacher Marsha Sipkovich said the school previously had only put on classroom plays for social studies and science classes. Disney Musicals became a game changer.

“We had never put on a full production where students audition, learn the songs and build the show step by step,” Sipkovich said. “Without the expertise of [Segerstrom’s] teaching artists, the students would never be able to see that process.”

When Westmont fifth-grader Alex Tran heard that her school was putting on “The Jungle Book,” she thought she might take a backstage job.

“Then my teacher said, ‘What if you had a part?’” Alex said. “At the first rehearsal, they called out my name [for the cast].”

Though she had never sung alone in front an audience before, Alex ended up taking center stage as Mowgli at the concert hall Tuesday during the song “The Bare Necessities.”

The Segerstrom Center was able to fund the program this year and last with a $100,000 grant from Disney.

At the end of the Student Share Celebration on Tuesday night, Segerstrom Center President Terrence Dwyer was greeted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who brought a $60,000 check from the Disneyland Resort so Segerstrom could hold Disney Musicals next school year.


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