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Canyon Theatre Guild To Partner With Newhall School District For Children's Theater

Historic auditorium will be home for CTG children's programs.

A new partnership between the Newhall School District and the Canyon Theatre Guild that will make children’s theatre education a top
priority in the Santa Clarita Valley will be voted upon Tuesday night by the district’s
governing board.

Sponsored By:

Teriyaki Madness

If approved, the partnership will allow the Guild to
renovate and use the auditorium at Newhall
Elementary School
for a children’s
theater program. Currently, the space is used by a variety of arts-related
groups, including the Santa Clarita Film Festival and the Repertory East
Playhouse, who hold workshops and rehearsals and construct sets in the
building.

“We met with about a half dozen organizations, but the
Canyon Theatre Guild was the only group that had the desire to do children’s
theater and the ability to raise the kind of money we’re talking about,” said
Marc Winger, superintendent of the Newhall
School District
.

The auditorium was converted into a warehouse space for the district
in the 1970s, when seats, curtains and lighting equipment were removed. In
1996, the group Theatre Arts for Children was formed specifically to restore
the auditorium, which was used by silent movie star William S. Hart to show
Western movies.

The group held fundraisers, such as the Country Fair at Newhall
Park
, and received grants towards
the renovation. They were able to complete seismic retrofitting and cleaned up
the auditorium and an annex next door, but were not able to raise enough money
to make the building a working theater.

Electrical and plumbing projects remain to be completed,
seating must be purchased and installed and lighting and sound equipment returned
to make the building, which was initially built by Works Projects Administration
laborers in 1939, a viable performance space.  

“In the lease, we have a five-year schedule, and it’s really
tough to raise the money in these hard economic times, so we will be flexible,”
Winger said. “The intent right now is to try and open that as a theatre for
kids in five years.”

KHTS Intern Leah DiPaola contributed to this story.