La Costa Canyon (LCC) High School’s Theatre department was once coined a “ghost town.” Several years ago, there were barely enough students to fill two theatre classes and participation in theatre was unpopular in an athletic-driven environment.
That perception has changed dramatically with the entrance of Theatre Arts Director Brad Golden who, in 2015, saw an opportunity to develop the program into what it is now one of the area’s most promising high school theatre departments.
Three years into his vision, the buzz is real. Through Golden’s drive and tireless commitment the program has successfully taken on seven challenging shows that might intimidate other less assertive programs such as West Side Story, The Crucible, and 12 Angry Jurors.
In the fall of 2017, LCC undertook what is possibly its most rigorous endeavor, The Love of 3 Oranges. The zany comedy was written in Commedia dell’ Arte, which is an improvisational form of 16th-18th century Italian theatre famous for its use of masks and clown-like gestures. The goal was high and equally gratifying as the California Education Theatre Association (CETA) awarded it as the “Best High School Play” in San Diego. The accolade provided LCC the opportunity to re-stage the entire show at the Los Angeles CETA Festival, for an audience of 1,500. The educational theatre competition is nationally recognized and considered one of the most prestigious of the Southern California region.
Ambition is now intricately ingrained in the theatre vernacular with LCC launching Les Miserables for its spring production.
More than 70 students are involved, including 48 cast members and 30 students participating in set construction, costumes and lighting design. For the first time in many years, an orchestra will provide live accompaniment. This production of Les Miserables will be entered into the 2018 Broadway San Diego Awards competition which celebrates excellence in high school musical theatre.
Golden’s passion and drive creates an environment for students to pursue the arts whether it be improv, technical stage management or performance. He generously shares his love of the arts, instilling confidence and inspiring his students to rise to the occasion no matter the challenge. His methods are immersive and have helped to establish an inclusive drama club and develop LCC’s highly popular ComedySportz improv team.
“It is a tangible feeling – knowing that he wants all of us to succeed,” said student and Thespian President Alondra Alvarez.
There is a mutual respect between students and teacher that encourages collaborative work. This creative culture is attracting high-caliber students to LCC Theatre. Rocco Polanco, an accomplished performer who transferred from Canyon Crest Academy this fall as a junior, is already playing a big role in transforming and creating a legacy for the LCC Theatre department. Polanco is currently an officer for the ComedySportz team, produces LCC’s onsite campus news station (“Mav Nation”), and is an integral part of the theatre community and an aspiring vocalist. Polanco is cast in the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.
“The opportunity to be mentored by Mr. Golden and the potential long-term career impact was a determining factor in choosing to attend LCC,” says Rocco Polanco. “The one-on-one development aspect and the option to produce student-created material is an exceptional life experience and one not readily offered at other schools.”
Beyond the success on stage, Golden has been able to boost theatre course enrollment and expand classes to include: Improv, Acting1, Musical Theatre, Intermediate Acting, Advanced Acting, Advanced Acting Honors, Stagehand Tech, and Drama Production. Starting next fall, Golden is shifting into a more progressive curriculum, titled the “Theatre Arts Pathway,” which moves students through an advanced educational sequence which prepares them for college and professional theatre. Looking ahead to the 2019-20 school year, Golden plans to embed the International Baccalaureate (IB) standards into the curriculum, becoming the only theatre program in the San Dieguito Union High School District to offer such a course.
Golden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from UCLA (’02) and is currently enrolled in NYU’s Master of Theatre Education program with an expected graduation in 2020.
Tickets for LCC’s spring production of Les Miserables are available online through Vendini at www.lacostacanyontheatre.com. Show dates: Wednesday, April 25 – Saturday, April 28; Wednesday, May 2 – Saturday, May 5.
Tickets also available at the box office one hour before the show. Curtain is at 6:30 p.m.