Community Spotlight: Dr. Dave Captures the Heart of YMTC

It takes a village to make a successful show. Meet Dr. David Weiland, the heart specialist and avid photographer who captures the beauty of each show with his trusty camera.

Dave was originally recommended to us by a parent, Kim Christensen, to shoot the 2008 production of Fiddler On The Roof. He has since become our resident photographer,  and has photographes over 17 shows and numerous events for YMTC. Dave provides headshots for our student actors, and photographs several rehearsals and performances, aiming for the perfect shots of the show. When he's not in the theater, he's working as a well know and loved heart specialist in the East Bay. We're not quite sure when he sleeps....
Thank you Dave, for all you have done and continue to do for the upcoming generation of artists!
Fiddler on the Roof
Don't Stop Me



Community Spotlight: Dinner's on Dawn Nakashima!

We couldn't do what we do without the many helping hands of so many fnatastic volunteers. Meet Dawn Nakashima, decorator and concessioneer extraordinaire!

Not only co-managing our concessions operation (which is a fundraiser for our tuition assistance program), but amazing hands-on help wherever needed:  helping paint the new campus buildings, helping co-create the new Karaoke BBQ, and set-building for DSM...Dawn, herself, is a fine artist (http://nakfinearts.com) who says her favorite thing is the build things. And, she's an avid Giants fan.

YMTC has been the lucky recipient of her skill and craft (not to mention her daughter Aya who leaves for college this Fall), which includes conceiving and building amazing and thematic design concepts for our concessions-- from the "Canteen" for South Pacific to the "Cafe" for Cabaret to "Golde's Marketplace" forFiddler on the Roof. Dawn enhances the volunteer concessions operation with energy and creativity, and an aesthetic which helps this important fundraiser for our tuition assistance program really fly.

Thanks, Dawn!

Here's a link to read more about Dawn: http://nakfinearts.com/artist_bio.html



Community Spotlight: It Takes A Village to Raise a Musical!

The success of YMTC's shows are due in no small part to our amazing volunteers.  Meet Alexa Wilkie and Janis Battles, our Box Office Managers Extraordinaire!

Alexa and Janis prepare tickets for Fiddler on the Roof

Many YMTC patrons have had the pleasure of being served by the dynamic and extremely organized box office duo of Alexa Wilkie and Janis Battles.  Our volunteer box office managers, always professional, kind, and good humored,  are happiest behind the scenes, making sure that box office systems work smoothly and patrons receive top notch service.  

However, this month they are in the community spotlight as we honor and thank them for the many hours they contribute to YMTC, and their invaluable service.  Alexa, a program manager by day, and Janis, a physical therapist, are also parents of talented sons who have performed in many YMTC shows.  
Next time you visit the box office for a show, give them a shout out! 



Honoring the Old. Welcoming the New

YMTC Artistic Director and Director of the upcoming Fiddler on the Roof, Jennifer Boesing, talks about why Fiddler and why now.

Fiddler on the Roof had its debut on Broadway fifty years ago, and it remains one the most beloved musicals in American history. It's been translated into multiple languages, seen by millions around the world, and revived in six separate productions on Broadway since its debut.  What is it that is so special, so singular about this show? Joseph Stein's script is certainly extremely well-conceived; Bock and Harnick’s songs unforgettable. But there is something else at the heart of this show that touches so many, and has sustained both its meaning and potency over so many years. 
When the directors and students of YMTC gathered for our first rehearsal together to read through the script and discuss the themes of the play, much passionate discussion ensued, but most of us were in agreement about why the show continues to ring so true. Many see the link in Fiddler to contemporary political issues. Jews continue to be persecuted due to their religion; likewise religiously- and ethnically-based persecution of Muslim people is rampant and mounting worldwide; surely we need to keep telling stories about that. For that matter, the systemic oppression of people based on their identities, whether racial or otherwise, continues to reign not just abroad but right here in our own community.

Jennifer works with the cast on the famous musical number: "Tradition"

But what is even more resonant about the story of Tevye and his daughters, worldwide and across multiple generations, is the deep exploration of the tension between honoring the old and welcoming the new. In short, Fiddler is about the one constant in all of our lives: change. Resistance to change, despair about change, revolting for change, and celebration of change. It is about the necessary challenge of loss and rebirth. It is truly a celebration of what it means to be human. 
As someone who has been in the theater my entire life–grew up in it, studied it, and now teach and direct it–I have often thought of the theater as a kind of religion.  Performative storytelling as an art form is certainly as old as religion, and the two have overlapped and served similar cultural purposes. Fiddler on the Roof is one of those theatrical experiences that brings this connection into sharp focus, as we come together in a community to celebrate this tradition that in and of itself explores the very notion of tradition. Through the act of performing this story together again and again, we make for ourselves a place to work through these questions. We make a place to express the pain of our struggles, and a place to sing our prayers, that we meet the challenge to be true to ourselves and each other in an ever-changing, ever more complex world.

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After American Idiot: Alumni Andrew Humann Performs in San Francisco!

Fresh off the national tour of Greenday's American Idiot and on to The Totalitarians at Zspace, YMTC Alumni Andrew Humann talks about his adventures in the professional theater world!

You just completed a national tour of American Idiot.  What was that like?  
American Idiot is an experience I will never forget. On top of traveling the country, I was able to rock out with my fellow cast mates eight times a week which was very rewarding. I'm a very lucky guy. The great thing about tour was that no matter where we were, sometimes in small less extravagant cities, the audience response never ceased to blow away my expectations. I can't remember a single show where we didn't receive a full standing ovation. That's a treat. The difficult aspect with touring, particularly with American Idiot which, as an ensemble member can be described as doing P90X on stage for 90 minutes, was the constant moving around. We would wake up, ride the bus from anywhere between 2-8 hours, check into our hotel, shower, scrounge to find a quick bite, take the bus to the venue, ROCK OUT, rinse, repeat. It can be very taxing on the body. But again, it was a phenomenal experience and I wouldn't change it for the world. 
American Idiot Tour

How do you think your YMTC time prepared you for acting on the professional world?
Working with YMTC on Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story taught me a number of things. For one, Jennifer and Dave brought out a stage confidence in me that I didn't know I had. They have this intense way of presenting actors challenges, and expecting them to meet them. And in my experience, both on and off the YMTC stage, they just nail it. Their belief in the kids is enough to unlock all kinds of potential that may otherwise have lain dormant. And to top it off, they're both extremely professional and delightful to work with which I think is vital in youth theater. YMTC is the only company of it's kind that achieves PROFESSIONAL youth theater. It's pretty amazing. I owe my vocal confidence to them.

Andrew plays Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar

What's your favorite YMTC memory?
Wow. Tough one. I bonded with a good number of my cast mates and still carry on deep friendships with a couple. But I'd have to say singing through West Side Story with that 32-piece orchestra the first time kind of blew my mind. I know I speak for the entire cast. I'll never forget hearing that band play those timeless tunes. And of course, the ritual cast party afterwards was always pretty sweet.
Playing Riff in West Wide Story

Playing Riff in West Wide Story
What are you working on now?  
I'm currently working on a play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb called THE TOTALITARIANS which will be at Z Space this fall. It's the first straight play I've done in a long time. I'm very excited. The cast and creatives crack me up all day every day. It's going to be a good one I think.

What advice would you give to today's YMTC students knowing what you know now?
Take the work as seriously as possible. If you match the professionalism that Jennifer, Dave, and Pam are providing you will find yourself becoming a better performer every day. Step outside your comfort zone and bask in the glory of creating. This business it tough and I'm still learning new things every day and don't expect to stop any time soon. YMTC really is a breeding ground for amazing talent. Use the tools they give you to make great art. It's a gift.


The Totalitarians opens November 19 at Z Below.  Learn More