Community theater has come to Agoura Hills, and City Recreation Supervisor Nick Newkirk says it’s about time. “We needed it,” he said. “Everyone else has one.” Under the artistic direction of Jeff Wallach, founder of Curtain Call Youth Theater, the city’s first production–The Pirates of Penzance–debuted over two consecutive weekends in February in the G Building at Agoura High School. “I’m very pleased with the turn-out,” said Newkirk. “We had 50-60 people at each performance, which is pretty good.”
Wallach, an actor/director/choreographer/producer/educator for the past 30 years, started the youth theater in Moorpark in 2005 as a means of introducing the classics to kids in a unique fashion. “Our Pirates was costumed and staged in a very non-traditional way,” he said. “Our next production, Macbeth, will be set in the Steampunk era with an all female cast … I want to show [my students] that there are plenty of traditional productions out there, and they don’t have to do it like everyone else.”
The theater program will present four seasonal productions a year with the ultimate goal of showcasing them at the new Parks & Recreation building currently under construction atop Ladyface Ct. Macbeth is scheduled for the last two weekends in June. Rehearsals for the shows take place on weekends only, which Wallach says has proven beneficial for both students and parents alike. “This way [rehearsals] don’t interfere with after-school functions,” he said.
Wallach credits the success of Pirates, not only to his talented young cast, but to the many parent volunteers.”The parent participation was like nothing I have ever experienced” he said. “I had them coming in to help, whether they had kids in the production or not. Some even came over from the days they worked with me in Moorpark.” Auditions for Macbeth begin Saturday, March 8, at the recreation center, 30610 Thousand Oaks Blvd, at 12 p.m. Wallach is seeking up to 22 roles. “Though we do like to schedule appointments, we also welcome walk-ins,” he said.
Teens from all over the Conejo Valley are invited to audition. Wallach says he had students from as far away as Ventura participate in Pirates.
“Jeff’s Curtain Call Youth Theater brings theater to the community the way it’s supposed to be done,” said Newkirk. Curtain Call Youth Theater serves kids between the ages of 13-19. A community theater for adults is also in the works. “We’re a very intimate experience,” said Wallach. “It’s a cool vibe.”