Well, Long Beach Public Library has closed the curtains on their annual Summer Reading Program as well as their wonderful – and FREE – summer programs. This summer, T and I were able to attend some wonderful story times, a harmonious instrument petting zoo, and a final act that consisted of a 40-minute musical medley put on by Musical Theatre West (MTW), Long Beach’s musical theatrical company for more than five decades.
I don’t throw around the “F” word as frequently nor as lightly as C does, RMT’ers, but let me just tell you this: This summer’s Musical Theatre West’s Youth Program of “From the Page to the Stage” was FANTASTIC. In fact, I told the librarian down at the Bayshore branch exactly that, and I told her that we made a very last-minute decision to attend. And what a great decision it was; T was mesmerized for the entire performance, and I could easily tell that he and the other kids thoroughly enjoyed the show. When kids can sit for 40 minutes and not want to get out of their seat, are quiet, and paying 100 percent attention, you know you’ve found a winner.
The youth ensemble who toured our local library system this summer can disband this summer knowing that they made Musical Theatre West proud. These were high school and college students whom dedicated their summer break home on vacation to entertaining Southern California youth through literature and living art. While it was extremely easy to see that theatre is a passion for each and every member of this cast, I still have to give these students major props for giving their time for our community’s (and our children’s) artistic enrichment. I don’t know if they were paid anything for working in this show (and even if they were it can’t be much – our show was free after all!), but I assure you I paid them my wholehearted gratitude at the end of their performance, as did T.
And not only did they put on a fun and frolicking afternoon (ah, more F-words!), the cast fielded several questions from the audience at the end from kids and parents, from what their favorite books were growing up to what their favorite theatre role to date has been. They stuck around for a little while also for those too shy to ask their questions in front of the crowd, which was really a sweet and friendly gesture.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but we’re already planning our family vacation for NEXT spring (2013), and we’ve decided to go to the United Kingdom (London and Dublin specifically). Thanks to a boatload of airline miles and points, the trip looks like it’ll be pretty fabulous (another of my favorite F-words!). We’re staying in the heart of the theatre district while in London, so we’re already trying to scope out which show to take a will-be-five-and-a-half-year-old T to. There’s literally a throng of theatres and performances just steps from our hotel that are appropriate for kids T’s age, so we’re keeping an eye on the run schedules. To date, the only musical theatre T has seen has been Disney on Ice and now MTW’s free summer library show, so we’re billing the London show as “Disney on Ice without Ice”; so far that wording – along with a few YouTube video clip viewings here-there – has helped us sell T on the idea of a full-feature live show. Bravo!
During this visit to the library, T and I also turned in our last reports for the Summer Reading Program. T earned himself some great rewards this summer with his reading investments, and I even earned myself a prize, too! I had hoped to read a bit more, but you know how it goes sometimes, right RMT’ers? That and it being summer, no matter how much I enjoy indulging in a great book, the days were just too nice to plop down and read more often than not (and I was too exhausted after long days out in the hot hot heat to stay awake with a book after bedtime, no matter how great the reading was!).
Sorry to say that Musical Theater West’s summer youth ensemble has or is very close to disbanding for the season as most of the cast members return to school within the coming days if they’ve not gone back already. However, I learned from the librarian that Bayshore staff are working like crazy to ensure that MTW returns for an encore series of performances in Summer 2013 to the Long Beach Public Library system and their branch specifically. Having said that, though, sadly our city is in the throes of budget woes, and some of the proposed items on the chopping block are these wonderful and free (and mostly volunteer-run) children’s programs (booooo). I simply could not imagine our local library without regular story times, summer reading programs, adult enrichment programs, and other arts and crafts events, could you, RMT’ers? (UPDATE: While most of the programs were saved for FY 2012-13, please note that this fight could arise again for FY 2013-14… I shall keep you posted!)
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