Now in its 23rd year, the San Carlos Children's Theatre has grown into one of the most respected programs in the state.
Artistic Director Eron Block has no plans to rest on his laurels. The next production, "Beauty and the Beast," is slated for a January, 2013 opening as a tri-school project.
Next May's planned community show (adults and children) is the large-scaled "Wizard of Oz," building on the theme "There's No Place Like Home."
The current summer productions of "Velveteen Rabbit" and "Little Shop of Horrors," which open today at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, represents a step out of the comfort zone.
Block also double-casted "Little Shop of Horrors" to include more people in the bigger roles. The expansion to repertory reflects the growth of interest in the program.
While everyone who appears in "Little Shop of Horrors" has done at least one show previously, "Velveteen Rabbit" incorporates younger actors making their stage debuts.
"It's fun to work with new actors," Block said. "Theatre helps build life skills. It's an incredible team with all the actors working together."
Block got his start as a kid performing skits at family functions in Florida. His parents enrolled him into acting lessons in the second grade and he's been active in theatre for a lifetime.
His wife, Daina, is a dancer and choreographer.
The program is available to kids as young as four and up until the age of 18 through a variety of camps, classes, seminars and workshops.
The theatre's mission is "Where Character Grows, on stage and off," Block said.
Young actors face character-building moments every step of the way, even when the road gets a little bumpy.
"We had one play when a locker fell on an actor during a chase scene," Block said. "Another time we had a power outage and their was a young lady singing on stage. She didn't skip a note and continued with the only light coming from flashlights. When she was done she got a standing ovation."
For the summer program, auditions are in March and rehearsals start when school is out. Actors are given scripts and attend read throughs until it becomes a six-hour, five days a week practice schedule.
"I like to call it family-oriented theatre with a touch of professionalism," Block said.
Performances of "Velveteen Rabbit" and "Little Shop of Horrors" continues Saturday and Sunday and again next Friday through Sundays. Tickets at $12 each are available online and at the box office.
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