By Susan Motander
Next week’s professional production for the community, ‘The King and I,’ is emblematic of the Monrovia Unified School District’s commitment to the arts in education. While this production involves professional actors, dancers and musicians, the cast includes several Monrovia High graduates and 15 children from the local elementary schools
At a time when, in the face of budget restraints, many school districts are limiting their arts programs, Monrovia Unified has done more than most to emphasize both the performing and visual arts. The level of importance the district places in the arts is made especially clear in the creation of the position of a Director of Performing Arts. As Director, Patrick Garcia has overseen the drama, music and arts programs throughout the schools.
There are many more than just High School Drama and the various bands in the schools. Each year, the elementary school students have worked with a professional artist to create murals at their schools (perhaps one of the most visable may be the depiction of Diego Rivera’s Fiesta on the north wall of Monroe Elementary School facing Colorado Blvd).
Members of ‘A Noise Within,’ the professional theater company in Pasadena, work with students at one of the two middle schools to stage one of Shakespeare’s plays. They focus on much more than just the production. The youngsters are taught stage fencing when the play calls for it. They learn the meaning of the words of the play. Garcia reported that after last year’s production at Clifton Middle School, he overheard one girl comment to another, “Now I really understand why Shakespeare’s work is important.”
Each of the nine professional productions has given the stage crew at the high school experience. In addition, the drama department has run the concession stand at every production at the Taylor Performing Arts Center, even those by groups other than those associated with the District. According the Garcia, this has added to the funds available for the high school’s own productions.
“Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian has been amazingly supportive of the arts,” Garcia recently said. “Her interest and support has made a huge difference in all our programs.”
Next week, the school district will present ‘The King and I’ at the Taylor Performing Arts Center. The performances will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. General Admission is $25 with VIP tickets available for $35. Discount tickets are available for groups, seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased on line at www.brownpapertickets.com, in person at Monrovia Travel on Myrtle Avenue and at the door. Saturday matinee tickets are only $10 for all seats (except VIP).