Encore! Bravo! Encore! These are among the sounds you will soon hear inside ’s new 550-seat theater and performing arts center, scheduled to open with a “Sneak Peek” preview benefit on Wednesday and at the official ribbon-cutting on Monday, April 25.
Thanks to Measure B, the $109-million school bond passed by San Leandro voters in 2006, the theater is the centerpiece of the new Arts Education Center that includes digital media classrooms, a sound stage with a green screen, and photography studios. The center will be the hub of the high school’s San Leandro Academy for Multimedia (SLAM), music and drama classes.
“San Leandro is a community that has long cherished the arts and recognizes the importance the arts play in its cultural vitality,” said Deborah Cox, president of the San Leandro Education Foundation (SLED), which is helping to raise funds for a theater manager. “This center will allow the arts to continue to flourish and will be a community resource for years to come.”
Students and teachers say that while visual and performing arts programs continue their renaissance throughout San Leandro schools, until passage of Measure B, putting on a show in school facilities had students and their parents singing If I Were a Rich Man.
Historically, drama productions were held in crammed portables. The old shop classrooms were outfitted for the multimedia academy. And the gymnasium was the site of assemblies, concerts and musicals, which often lacked production values and standard amenities like proper acoustics and lighting.
Hauling out the folding chairs was reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while others were afraid they would hear The Phantom of the Opera from under the stage floor. As far as staging a production at the high school, it was like Anything Goes.
Now, the community will be treated to a theater arts experience ready to shine under the spotlight and becoming of the talent and dedication of the students who will soon perform in it. The Sound of Music will soon fill rehearsal rooms and have vocal and instrumental students ready for a High School Musical.
The Friends of the Theater, in collaboration with SLED, is sponsoring the “Sneek Peek” event to raise funds for a facilities supervisor who will ensure the theater is well-maintained, managed and open for community use.
“Now that the community has invested in this state-of-the-art facility, it’s important that we preserve it and allow for its greatest use possible,” Cox said.
The “Sneak Peek” benefit event will be held Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the theater, 2200 Bancroft Ave. Guests will be treated to a back-stage tour of the performing arts center and see rehearsals for Once Upon a Mattress, the high school’s spring musical production. To attend, e-mail Jeni Engler (the veritable Mary Poppins of Friends of the Theatre) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 352-8473.
The suggested $50 donation will help fund the theater manager position. Donations may also be directed to the SLED, P.O. Box 3820, San Leandro, CA 94578. For more information, visit www.sledfund.org.
Please join the community for Another Op’nin’, Another Show!
Louis Heystek served on the San Leandro School Board for eight years and is currently a member of the San Leandro Education Foundation Board of Directors. He is an alumnus of San Leandro High School’s Notables choir.