This past Friday, my wife and I went to see the opening night of the Cabrillo Stage production of Chicago at the Crocker Theater on the campus of Cabrillo College. We live not far from there, and for years I’d been driving under the pedestrian bridge across Soquel Drive and seeing the various banners for Cabrillo Stage productions hung there. I’d long been enticed to check it out, but I’d never actually gone to see a performance, until last week.
I think the reason I’d never gone before was that I assumed that the productions would be the Community College version of a High School theater production. I’d imagined a rag tag group of enthusiastic but amateurish thespians belting out classic Broadway show tunes accompanied by canned music against a backdrop of cardboard cut-outs.
Cabrillo Stage is a Professional Production
It turns out, Cabrillo Stage is a production company separate and apart from Cabrillo College. Cast and crew are first rate professionals who work on productions all throughout California, and in fact many of them have worked nationwide and on Broadway in New York City. The quality of the performance I saw is not unlike what you’d find at the Curran Theater in San Francisco or the well-regarded and very popular San Jose Stage Company.
As a boy, I was an understudy for a couple of roles with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco (Happy Landings, A Christmas Carol), and I also performed with the San Francisco Boys Chorus in several productions of the San Francisco Opera (Carmen, Tosca, and La Bohème). I’ve never actually seen a Broadway play, and now you know the extent of my stage experience.
I’m a real estate broker, not a theater critic, so I’m really not one to be able to judge the quality of the Chicago production that I saw. What I can tell you though is that the crowd was buzzing – people were jazzed, laughing, and clapping, and the show ended with a standing ovation. I had a great time, and left genuinely impressed with what I’d seen. It’s amazing to me that this kind of entertainment can be had literally a 15 minute walk from my front door, and that I’d never availed myself of it before. If only I’d known! Well now I do, and so do you. 🙂
Janie Scott, Director and Choreographer
A couple of days before opening night, I had a chance to sit down with Janie Scott, the director and choreographer. Ms. Scott is no stranger to Cabrillo Stage, having directed and choreographed number of productions for Cabrillo Stage over the years, including Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate, Swing, Honk! and Some Like It Hot. She has a career spanning decades and has a wide gamut of talent: she’s been a singer, dancer, actor, director, and choreographer, having appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line, Peter Pan, and Merrily we Roll Along. She also served over 20 years as a Professor in the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University.
When speaking with her, I hardly knew where to begin our conversation (I’m not a professional journalist, either!). But our talk gravitated around her professional career. She’s been at this for decades, honing her craft in numerous roles. She’s a consummate artist, and I was very curious to hear how she’d been so successful for such a long period of time.
I came away learning that success in theater comes down to several key elements: passion, persistence, talent, and some degree of luck. Watching the show, you could see and feel the passion and talent on stage – it was palpable. The experiences of the director, cast, and crew all blended together to create an extraordinary night out in Aptos, one that I won’t soon forget.
Cabrillo Stage Tickets and Events
The production of Chicago runs until July 10th, and Fiddler on the Roof runs between July 21st and August 14th. Ticket prices for Chicago range from $18-$45 and $16-$45 for the production of Fiddler.
Cabrillo Stage is having a couple of special events, where the public is welcome to join the creative team for a Directors and Cast discussion. The event is hosted by Jon Nordgren, the artistic director for Cabrillo Stage, and is free to attend. Anyone who is interested in professional theater should find these events to be fun and insightful.