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The tale of two volunteer moms join together to help costume local youth theater

Natalie Olvera’s daughter Alexa as “Molly” in “Annie”
Natalie Olvera’s daughter Alexa as “Molly” in “Annie”
(Photo by Leyna Butcher)

Frozen Jr to be presented Jan. 13-19 at R. Roger Rowe School in Rancho Santa Fe

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While steaming wrinkles out of costumes backstage during a production of “Annie” in 2022, Kelly Anguiano and Natalie Olvera met. “I had never done theater, let alone costumes before,” said Natalie Olvera in a news release. Olvera and her daughter Alexa had discovered Heyjojo Productions/Solana Beach Community Theater when a neighbor invited them to see a production of “Aladdin”.

“It was during the pandemic,” Olvera said in the news release. “We wore masks and we were blown away with the production held in the old abandoned Staples (now The Burlington Coat Factory) location in Encinitas.”

Jolene “Jojo” Dodson Bogard laughed and said in the news release, “That location was one of my favorites because it was such a blank canvas.”

Dodson Bogard is the president of Heyjojo Productions and a board member of the Solana Beach Community Theater which was instrumental in keeping the doors open and kids performing during the entire pandemic. “I did it for their mental health. Our actors just wanted to perform. So I held rehearsals in our parking lot and in my backyard for a couple years….and when I found a giant empty warehouse to do a show…we performed there too,” Dodson Bogard said in the news release. “I was so grateful to everyone who understood that children and actors needed open space to perform. That ‘Aladdin’ production was amazing.”

Kelly Anguiano’s son Emmett as “Pumbaa” in “The Lion King”
Kelly Anguiano’s son Emmett as “Pumbaa” in “The Lion King”
(Photo by Leyna Butcher)

Dodson Bogard found other Covid-friendly stages at The Ritz in Escondido where she launched productions of “Cinderella” and “Annie” in 2022.

“During Annie, our costume designer Jared Davis got a dream job of working for Disney in the Costume Department. I was super bummed to lose his young talent, but excited he was chasing his dream at the same time,” Dodson Bogard said in the news release. “I started letting families know he was leaving and Kelly mentioned in passing, I would love to help out with costumes.”

Anguiano, who learned to sew at a young age making her own clothes and Halloween costumes, mentioned her son had done “The Lion King” at CYT (Bogard’s next production) and told Jojo they had great costumes. Together they went on a field trip to look at their costumes and made a pack to give her a shot.

Olvera added in the news release, “I had no experience in costuming. But as a project manager for an engineering company, I thought I could use my skills to help organize.”

Natalie Olvera’s daughter Alexa as “Molly” in “Annie”
Natalie Olvera’s daughter Alexa as “Molly” in “Annie”
(Photo by Jolene Dodson Bogard)

In June, the duo costumed 140 young actors in five casts of “The Lion King”. “It was fun, challenging, and at times…. chaos. But fun.” said the costumers. Their own young actors were laughing and having fun, and the “moms” were using new skills they never knew they had. Olvera said in the news release, “We were new in town (after moving from Arizona during Covid) and volunteering at the theater, I got to meet some awesome new families.”

Both Anguiano and Olvera’s children are performing in the “Olaf Cast” of “Frozen Jr.” with all costumes created, procured and designed by the duo. “We didn’t rent any costumes! But we did purchase some,” states Anguiano in the news release. “I’m excited and scared for the transformation dress. But that’s the excitement of live theater. Right?”

Frozen Jr. has six casts performing over six days (two shows each day). Tickets are available at www.heyjojoproductions.com.

Frozen Jr opens on Friday, Jan. 13 and closes on Jan. 19. All performances will be held at R. Roger Rowe School, 5927 La Granada in Rancho Santa Fe. — Heyjojo Productions news release


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