As quickly as we move forward, we’re easy to keep up with.
This is where you can keep pace with news about what we’re currently doing to serve our Mission for San Francisco’s kids. We are always looking for new ways to empower children, reach more of them, teach more of them and give them, through art education, skills that just might? Make them newsworthy, accomplished adults!
> Saddle up, pardner, because Destry Rides Again
Welcome, stranger, to Bottleneck, one of the roughest, toughest, rowdiest backwaters in the American West. Sheriffs come and go here – mostly go – and crime is just a way of life. Until, that is, the arrival of Tom Destry, a deputy sheriff who refuses to wear a gun.
Can his non-violent approach really tame the Wild West?
The answer is a resounding yes, especially since that non-violent approach also comes with a heaping helping of singing and dancing.
The San Francisco Arts Education Project proudly presents Destry Rides Again performed by the SFArtsED Players, a troupe of musical theater performers ages 9 to 14. The show runs Feb. 11 through Feb. 26 at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco.
Destry marks the first Western musical in the 12-year history of the SFArtsED Players, a group that has performed everything from musical theater classics (The Music Man, Fiorello!) to original revues (last year’s Everything Goes! The Music of Cole Porter) and original musicals (Between Dirt and Sky).
Destry Rides Again was part of a stellar 1959 Broadway season, which also included The Sound of Music and Gypsy. Harold Rome, of Pins and Needles and I Can Get It for You Wholesale fame, wrote the charming score, and Leonard Gershe wrote the book based on the 1930 novel by Max Brand and the 1939 movie starring James Stewart as Deputy Sheriff Tom Destry and Marlene Dietrich as dance hall girl Frenchy.
“Destry Rides Again is a wonderful idea for a musical” says Danny Duncan, the show’s director and a veteran of Players shows. “When the cast album came out in 1959, I was a young boy in San Francisco, but when I listened to that album, I could see the entire show. I loved the Jimmy Stewart-Marlene Dietrich film and loved the Old West story, and it turned out to be perfect for director-choreographer Michael Kidd, who turned the show into an extraordinary star vehicle and ensemble dance show.”
The legendary Kidd directed and choreographed Destry on Broadway and won a Tony Award for the dynamic dances he created for the show. The show was a hit, racking up 472 performances during the year and a half it was open at the Imperial Theatre.
“It turns out this show is perfect for us,” says SFArtsED Artistic Director Emily Keeler. “There is so much strong ensemble work, especially in the dancing. The ensemble is on stage most of the time because this is a show about community and about how bringing law and order to town is changing the community. For the kids it’s an opportunity of a lifetime because they’re all on stage so much of the time. Michael Kidd created a show in which every transformative moment in the story is also a dance moment. For us and what we want to teach our students – to sing, dance and act – this is a fantastic show. And it’s fun.”
The theme of non-violence is strong in Destry as the unarmed Deputy Sheriff deals with bullies whose only power comes from carrying a gun.
“Destry says that guns are no good,” Duncan says. “The song says, ‘Those who live by the gun, die by the gun, ending with a swift kiss of lead.’ The first time I heard that in 1959 it gave me goose bumps, and that’s a hell of a message to bring into this troubled century. This show remains quite relevant.”
Keeler says the anti-violence message is the essence of Destry. “It’s about brains over brawn, smarts over violence,” she says. “That’s how Destry approaches his job of fixing this town. He does it with love and with his interest in fairness, which is part of what makes Destry great: great theme, great music, great dance, great humor. Part of the joy this year is bringing a show to the stage that is not seen a lot but should be. We’re reviving something for our company, and we’re proud of that.”
Destry Rides Again is directed by Danny Duncan, with musical direction by Sean Forte, choreography by Natalie Greene, Erin Hewitt and Emily Keeler, costumes by Barbara Beccio, set by Paul Kwapy and lighting by Elizabeth Hersh. Stage Managers are Sydney Gaugreau and Adriana Martinez, both part of SFArtsED’s apprentice program with the technical theater program at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. SOTA students also apprentice with the costume and set designer and run the light and sound boards for each of the shows at the Eureka Theatre.
Multimedia: Check out the Players in rehearsal for Destry Rides Again at http://www.sfartsed.org/sfartsed-players/. Also on that page you’ll find a clip from the original 1959 production of Destry.
> This time it's not just anything. Everything Goes!
At words poetic, he was anything but pathetic. Cole Porter was, to paraphrase the man himself, the top – a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet…he was Mickey Mouse!
Now a whole new generation is reveling in Porter’s brilliance. The San Francisco Arts Education Project Players, a troupe of Bay Area kids ranging in age from 9 to 15, will perform more than 30 of his songs in Everything Goes! The Music of Cole Porter an original revue having its world premiere Feb. 4-13, 2011 at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco.
SFArtsED Artistic Director Emily Keeler and Danny Duncan, the director of Everything Goes!, usually perform traditional musicals from the Broadway canon, shows like The Pajama Game, The Music Man or last year’s hit, Fiorello. But with 54 kids in this year’s troupe, a book musical was too limiting and wouldn’t give the members of the ensemble enough to do.
So Keeler and Duncan decided to put together an original revue as they had done in 2004 with Secret Sondheim. They realized that in 10 years of doing shows with the Players, they had never done any Cole Porter.
“The sophistication of Porter’s work and his diversity of material really appealed to us,” Keeler says. “Mr. Porter sets the bar pretty high.”
Duncan feels strongly that the kids are up to the challenge of Porter’s complex rhythm and lyrics. “This material can be difficult for adults,” Duncan says. “I knew it would be a challenge for the kids, but a challenge they would inevitably rise to. That’s what this organization does – it exposes kids to the lessons of real musical theater.”
Among the songs being performed are some of Porter’s best known, including “In the Still of the Night” sung a cappella by the entire cast, “Night and Day,” “I Love Paris” and “Begin the Beguine.” The revue also features some lesser-known Porter tunes such as “Live and Let Live” and “The Ritz Rock and Roll.”
“Rehearsals have been a great process,” says Keeler, who has been with SFArtsED since 1985. “The kids love the word play, love the music and the humor. They also appreciate the sound and beauty of the music.”
When the entire ensemble was working on “In the Still of the Night,” Duncan, Keeler and Musical Director Diana Lee asked the kids what the song meant to them.
“We asked them what it means to sing, ‘In the still of the night, as I lay without slumber.’ And they got pretty much everything the song is about,” Duncan says. “They understood it’s about life, beauty, subtlety, caring about somebody. This material is really an education for them.”
Musical Director Lee, working on her fourth show with the Players, sees the young performers embracing Porter’s songs.
“The diversity of his styles is so wonderful – there are hilarious comic songs and these incredibly beautiful love songs,” Lee says. “There’s something to appeal to every kid. Some want to be funny, some want to be dramatic so they all get what they want. I think what they’re really appreciating is how carefully Porter matches lyric to melody. He was just brilliant.”
During performances at the Eureka, Lee will play piano alongside a band that includes five additional players on bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet and trombone. This is the first Players Cole Porter show and its first shiny brass section.
“We all feel lucky to get to spend this amount of time with Porter’s work,” Keeler says. “He’s a singer’s musician. He really is. Even his melodies tell stories. He’s a fine craftsman, and it’s wonderful to watch the kids learn and inhabit this material. I think it’s teaching things, unconsciously, that they need to learn as artists. We love being around that.”
Click here for more information.
> Kids participate in a work of art. And become great works of art.
The “museum” was San Francisco Conservatory of music, the gilded frame was stage light and the fine art was 70 public school children performing Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s favorite musical. Between them they trained over the summer, after school and on weekends to sing, dance, act and transform themselves into hard working, true artists.
This is not “kiddy theater” but passionate performers made up of SFArtsED Players and Broadway Bound Summer Camp studies. They joined 15 Player Alumni now attending 10 Colleges and Universities to participate in thoroughly polished and deeply investigated performances with the UC Berkeley Summer Symphony in July.
Living proof that art is forever:
“SFArtsED forced my life to go into a better direction. Musical Theatre is so beautiful whether you sit in the audience or light shines down on you onstage.”
— Cassi Grilley, SFArtsED Alumni
> “Kids beg to go to Summer Camp. News at 11.”
“Good day, Jim. If you can hear me above all the excitement and voices singing what sources believe are Broadway tunes behind us, we’re here at Horace Mann Middle School reporting to you live with our news crew and covering today’s activities here in the Mission.
Kids as old as 15 — yes, teenagers — are said to be enthusiastically looking forward to summer camp and a morning of…and I’m reading directly from the official Camp Schedule here…fashion design…followed by an…afternoon of cartooning and illustration. One child, claiming to be 7 going on 8, stated, and I’m quoting her here, ‘I walked on stilts yesterday and today I get to learn how to be a clown.’ She did seem to be credible, Jim. One of the parents I met earlier, dropping off his daughter and what looked to be two best friends in front of the school and, appearing slightly worn, said quote, ‘They kept me up all night giggling about it, the three of them’ and added in what looked to this reporter like a bittersweet moment, ‘I never had camp this good when I was a kid.’ That’s all we have now on SFArtsED Summer Camp 2010, back to you, Jim.”
> We’d shout on the rooftops about everything new about Summer Camp 2010. But that would be so 1710.
The big news is that when Camp begins on June 14th, kids 6-14 are going to enter a world of more artistic options, flexibility and innovative scheduling to suit both their passions (and parental preferences) for a summer in participatory arts. New half day classes, new full day modules, and a first time ever rehearsals for live performances of Oscar and Hammerstein’s Carousel are in store. Download our 15th Annual SFArtsED Summer Camp Brochure now!
> Holiday gifts for $15 and under? Yes, that is news.
It’s a gift of time on time. Take your giftees back to turn of the Century New York with our SFArtsED Players production of Fiorello! Tickets for this Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway musical are on sale at cityboxoffice.com for February Eureka Theatre performances.
This is truly something to look forward to, with a hard working, talented cast of 30, singing, acting and dancing (including a glitz filled, retro tap number.) Along with professionally guided sets, lighting and wardrobe from our Artist Teachers and our arts organization partners.
It’ll be here before you know it! Get your tickets (and these one of a kind gifts) now.
For more information see our press release or call 415.551.7990.
> Early holiday presents for our kids: 10 gifted new teaching Artists.
Enter, Katie Kerwin! Working and teaching professionally for 15 years as both an actor and choreographer, she’s now an Artist-In-Residence in two public schools this year. And is choreographing the major tap dance number in SFArtsED Players’ upcoming performance of “Fiorella!” this February.
Brazil comes to the Bay via Raffaella Falchi, an Artist-In-Residence inside two San Francisco public schools. Teaching dazzling Brazilian samba shines, through Raffaella’s professional engagements with many dance companies since 1998, in the city, Europe and of course? Brazil.
Another winning asset: Joshua Fishbein. Having won his own first prizes in the 2009 San Francisco Conservatory Art Song Competition and the Women Sing Young Composers Competition, he has much to give to our kids. Joshua is a starring new Artist-In-Residence at Glen Park Elementary School.
> Staying after school just keeps getting better!
Grattan Elementary School students have been enthusiastic learners through their new SFArtsED After School program. It emphasizes teaching, building confidence and imagination in ways that reinforce the school day curriculum. We are proud to say that two Artists-In-Residence there, Richard Olsen and Zeke Nealy are Master Artists, each with over ten years of dedication to kids through SFArtsED. They not only help the kids at Grattan grow, but also mentor other Artists who spread the love of learning and laughing amongst children.
> The musical “Peace Corps” lands at Paul Revere.
This national organization, the Music National Service, places artists around the country to build teamwork, discipline and critical thinking through music. They are now in Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle and inside our own Paul Revere College Prep Academy in Bernal Heights. This partnership benefits our students as they’re working with our Artists-In-Residence to create more performing opportunities. Read all about them at musicnationalservice.org.
> This isn’t just good news. Great news is more like it.
We’re starting the 2009-2010 school year with a strong standing, thanks to those who support the unique participatory arts education our city’s kids crave. Good news for children and the Artists who are so passionate about their learning.
Artists-In-Residence are still in over 20 city schools, paid partly from the Board of Supervisors’ Elementary Arts Funding and Proposition H monies. As well as funds provided by parents’ organizations in many of our schools. We continue to engage close to as many kids as last year: 7,500 children citywide in 2008. We’ve added another After School Program. And SFArtsED Players (musical troupe) are returning to performances at the Eureka Theater. Last year’s ticket sales were the best yet!
We were able to help by awarding scholarships to 17% of all SFArtsED Summer Camp students this year. A full 29% of our middle school Summer Camp students received aid.
Thank you, San Francisco Unified School District for your continued support in what we offer kids in virtually every city neighborhood. A full 85 of your schools were represented in our Summer Camp students, and students from 21 of your schools received scholarships!
In contrast to all you read, especially concerning kids and their educations, we’re grateful to be so present. And so accountable to vibrant, hopeful futures.
> Brilliant new teachers arrive. Shiny red apple shortage in city.
Our kids are soon to be thrilled to point of bribery by the latest Artists joining our family. In musical theater? Enter Ben Keim, Matthew Rupert and Alyssa Stone. Keim is a graduate of our hometown San Francisco State in Music. Rupert studied in the Peabody Conservatory at John Hopkins in Baltimore. Stone is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Music with a Master of Voice Performance from New England Conservatory, and just finishing her post graduate in Voice and Opera Studies at the San Francisco Conservatory. Click Artists to see their biographies.
> Kids thrilled to stay after school.
We welcome Grattan Elementary School students to our motivating After School Program, offering arts education supporting the day’s academics. After school, kids will join activities designed to spark interest and build imagination. The same Artists-In-Residence who teach during the school day, working with Grattan’s in school staff, have created enriching curriculums reflecting dynamic needs of this individual school.
Grattan’s kids will focus on computers, chess, arts and recreation. At Glen Park’s After School program, in place since 2002, we combine arts activities with literacy and health education.
About 200 children are now involved through collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District, the Student Support Services Department, the Department of Children, Youth and their Families and the Grattan PTA.