Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 6
Local businesses, parents, and community members are clamoring to support the Lompoc Youth Theater
BY JOE PAYNE
Lompoc Youth Theater leaders have strived to ramp up the quality of their summer theater program ever since their first production of High School Musical five years ago. Student tuition and ticket sales only go so far in supporting a quality live theater production, explained Joyce Mayhew, founder and director of the Lompoc Youth Theater, in an email interview.
So the fledgling company reached out to its community for support.
“Ultimately, the budget for the show is far greater than what the cost of camp tuition and ticket sales will cover,” she wrote, “and I am committed to keeping prices as low as possible.”
She found her biggest supporters in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, a small drag of Lompoc that’s packed with local winemakers. She’s held her fundraising events at various area wineries and tasting rooms, with this year’s event happening on April 26 at Transcendence Wines.
“This year Transcendence is donating 10 percent of their Wineclub spring shipment and sales at the event to the Lompoc Youth Theater,” Mayhew wrote. “Joey and Sara Gummere of Transcendence Wines are extremely generous; besides being a year-round support and donating dozens of hours of work, wine, and opening their space to us, they actively seek to improve access to arts in our community.”
The Gummeres believe in Mayhew’s program for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is their own daughters’ involvement in the plays. The Lompoc Youth Theater aims to teach its participants the meaning of professional involvement in something as complex as a full theatrical production.
“Winemakers and theater artists seem to be kindred spirits,” Mayhew wrote. “Both artforms involve working weeks and months (sometimes years) on something that results in just a few hours enjoyment.”
The few hours of enjoyment that will be the rock ’n’ roll-themed “Welcome to the ’60s” fundraiser event will end up supporting the upcoming summer production of Hairspray, Jr. The event will feature wine by the glass, delicious food, raffles of extravagant donation prizes, and live music by opener Kathleen Sieck followed by classic rock ’n’ roll by The Remnants. There will also be a few fun performances by Lompoc Youth Theater staff in the vein of the 1960s.
“The kids have been begging me for years to do Hairspray,” Mayhew wrote. “I was cautiously reserved about the idea of it, however, when the ‘Jr.’ version came out in December, I was excited to go to the ’60s.”
The Lompoc Youth Theater doesn’t shy away from productions that feature big numbers, complicated sets, involved choreography, and musical performance. Mayhew typically hires a number of industry professionals she has experience working with to fill the roles of music director, choreographer, set designer, and the like. This allows the kids to enjoy professional-level instruction in a variety of performing arts.
“I have worked with everyone on my staff before,” Mayhew wrote. “Some of them are Broadway veterans I have shared the stage with or collaborated with on many productions.”
Part of the success of the Lompoc Youth Theater, and the overwhelming support from within the community, comes from the professionalism imbued in the kids who participate. Mayhew achieves this by requiring that the kids meet professional, but respectful, standards.
“I treat them like actors,” she wrote. “We all have a job to do, and when an actor is cast in a role everybody understands what that means.
“Kids get so much confidence and learn how to work together when treated like legitimate artists,” she continued. “The next ‘thing’ or opportunity to perform doesn’t seem so daunting.”
While a live performance can be daunting, it doesn’t deter the kids who are involved in Mayhew’s program. One young actor, who’s been involved in every Lompoc Youth Theater production, wrote about the program as part of a senior project at her high school: “Every year the shows have grown and improved and so have I as a person and actress,” 17-year-old Josalin Vais wrote. “The theater is definitely a magical place where you can become anyone and, sometimes, even multiple characters within one performance.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne wants to rock back in the ’60s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.