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Art academy attracts actress

As a relief from often-monotonous academic routines, many students find time after school to participate in activities separate from school. Though these hobbies may cause schedule overflow, they sometimes morph into lifelong passions.

The California Arts Academy, an after-school program for dancing, singing and theater productions, allows practice and lessons for those interested in life onstage. Madison Dooley, ’11, began to study at the academy a year and a half ago.

“I have been in five musicals since I started at the academy,” Dooley said. “We’ve done Dear Edwina, Seussical, Pirates of Penzance, and Willy Wonka. They are all junior productions, which means they’re Broadway to the small stage.”

For this year’s first production, the academy staged Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Dooley received the role of the title character.

“I was the understudy for the Cat in the Hat in Seussical but I only did one performance,” Dooley said. “It’s a lot harder to be the main character, but being onstage is worth all the hard work. ”

Director Daniel Chavez, Jr., admits that the first show of the year is often the most difficult but expressed satisfaction with the opening night performance.

“The show was a great success,” Chavez said. “Usually, the first show is always the hardest, but I think they pulled it off. This group of kids is a very talented group. They spent so much time trying to get this right and they did a great job.”

Despite numerous years of involvement with the stage, Dooley still finds the audition process nerve-wracking. She credits her friends’ attendance to settling her nerves.

“Madison was really good at singing,” Kelsey Gunner, ’11, said. “I’ve known her since the seventh grade, but I never had time to go see her other productions. It was really interesting though and I am really proud of her. She did so well in the part; it suited her.”

Along with Dooley, others with a dominant role find performing comically onstage to be difficult. Kia Vassiliades as the Queen of Hearts remembers several embarrassing moments onstage but remains in the Cal Arts Academy.

“I think the most embarrassing part was when I got pushed back and the audience could see my underwear,” Vassiliades said. “Even though it was intentional, it was still embarrassing. One of the other bad things about being the Queen was that after every rehearsal, I lost my voice. It was still fun though.”

As a director, Chavez admits that there is more work involved for amateurs, though he dedicates private time to those in need of more specific direction.

“It’s easier directing because I know [the cast] well,” Chavez said. “I have worked with a lot of the same kids, like Madison Dooley, and she has really improved. I really think that their first performance was great!”

While performing, Dooley attempts to transform her personality to fit her role.

“I’m shy at school and in a musical, it gives you an excuse to be somebody else besides shy,” Dooley said. “I’ve made really close friends at the academy. I don’t talk to them on a daily basis, but I text them now and then.”

The California Arts Academy will hold three more performances of Alice in Wonderland, Jr., Feb. 8, 9, and 10. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For tickets, call 559-222-6539.

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  • C

    CassidyJan 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Ha…it was a lot of fun getting dressed up for the senior night game. In the past we have just dressed crazy right before the game/after school. However, this year we decided to dress up all day which was more fun.

    My socks were from my elf costume (freshman initiation for soccer) and my glove was from my Michael Jackson costume from our fashion show at this year’s Coast Tournament.

    Sad day that we lost the Caruthers game (Oct. 29) but the girls fought really hard and it was by far the best game of the season.

    Come out and support when we get to playoffs!

    Reply
  • J

    Jeremiah BrownJan 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Emily looks so confused. lol

    Reply