Upstage Theatre Arts Schools Presents The Sound of Music

Kids breathe new life into classic musicals

PHOTO: Courtesy of Upstage | | Summer campers at Upstage Theatre Arts School in South Pasadena

The talented kids of Upstage Theatre Arts School are bringing South Pasadena the beloved musical, The Sound of Music, in the Main Theatre at South Pasadena High School July 28-August 5. It is the culmination of weeks of work during their summer camp sessions where the young thespians have been studying acting, singing and dancing as they rehearse a fully realized production that the entire community is invited to.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Upstage | | Scene from Upstage & SPEF’s 5th grade musical, The Lion King

Audiences have adored the story of the Von Trapp family and their governess, Maria, for decades. With iconic songs like My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi and Climb Ev’ry Mountain, audience members will surely be humming the tunes as they leave the theatre.

Upstage started life in South Pas back in 1999 as part of the community services program, with the goal of providing a high quality theatre program for young people and giving professional performers a day job that made use of their training and experience in support of their artistic careers. Of those early days, owner and teacher Adrian Cohen says, “The shows were very basic and I built the sets and glue-gunned the costumes myself and we would set up a kind of theatre experience at the senior center.”

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Upstage | | Upstage production of Aladdin Jr.

Cohen says the same principals still apply today; to use professional experience to set a very high bar for the performance levels of the kids, give the young actors the answers both physically and emotionally and get them to assume the physicality and point of view of their character. This is an “outside-in” approach more popular in England where Cohen was born and educated. “We work on acting, dance and singing skills throughout the rehearsal process,” he says, “and the use of multiple casting of the principal roles gives our productions an ensemble feel.” Cohen also cites studies which show that skills and experiences gained from rehearsing and performing have a profound effect on a student’s academic achievement, adding, “we like to say ‘theatre skills are skills for life’”.

Today, Upstage runs close to twenty programs in South Pas, West LA and Agoura Hills. In addition to their after school and summer programs, Upstage also works with LAUSD and SPEF to provide big projects such as the 5th grade Musical every February which has become a popular event for the South Pas community.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Upstage | | Scene from Upstage & SPEF’s 5th grade musical, The Lion King

Reflecting on his time here in South Pasadena Cohen says “the kids in South Pas are in a very good school district and I really think this reflects on what a great attitude we get from kids generally here. We think of them as “can do” kids.” When asked what gets him up in the morning, he says, without hesitation, “the fact that we are creating positive, life-changing experiences for children.”

In addition to their exciting summer programs, Upstage offers year round training including a Tuesday afternoon program for kids ages 5-9, from 4pm-6pm, Thursday afternoons for 9-15 year olds and a straight acting class starting in October which helped four students gain a place at the prestigious LACHSA last year.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Upstage | | Adrian Cohen leads summer thespians through an acting exercise at Upstage’s summer theatre camp

To get a feel for what goes on at Upstage and to just have a great time, grab your tickets now for The Sound of Music, playing the next two weekends at South Pasadena High School – Main Theatre – 1401 S. Fremont Ave. South Pasadena. General Admission is $13. FREE for children 3 years of age and under. For more information on Upstage visit or call (626) 310-0447.

Use this link for tickets to both weekends of shows:

The Sound of Music, Friday July 28 at 7:30, Sat. July 29 at 6:30 starring the South Pasadena 2017 Summer Cast (Session 2)

Friday, August 4 at 7:30, Saturday August 5 at 3:30 and Saturday August 5 at 6:30 Starring the South Pasadena 2017 Summer Cast (Session 3)