AISD summer theatre series preview event is black and white (photos) and red (carpet) all over

For the first time ever, the district's summer theatre program consists of three shows and enjoys Austin Ed Fund sponsorship

MacJournalism summer staff

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Actors from the casts of the Aisd Summer Theatre Series musical “In the Heights,” including McCallum’s own Sami Gade (third from left), perform the musical’s title song during Thursday’s Red Carpet Preview Night at the AISD Performing Arts Center. The musical, featuring music and lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, is one of three shows in the 2019 AISD Summer Theatre Series. The preview featured a red-carpet meet-and-greet in the PAC lobby, followed by previews of all three shows and testimonials from current and former student participants in the summer series. “In the Heights” began its run today. The show runs July 18-21 and will be followed by performances of the dual-language edition of “Disney’s Aladdin” (July 25-July 28) and “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability” (July 27-28). This year’s series is sponsored by the Austin Ed Fund and includes more than 150 students from 30 AISD schools, including many from McCallum.


During the Red Carpet Preview Night for the 2019 AISD Summer Theatre Series on Thursday, two of the stars from 2016’s “Little Mermaid,” which launched the AISD Summer Theatre series were reunited on the AISD Performing Arts Center stage. Gigi Lozano, who played Ariel, and Sam Hallam, one of two actors who played Flounder, recalled the experience, which was formative for them and for the summer theatre series. “It was my first show that I ever did, so getting past that was my biggest challenge” said Hallam, then a rising Fulmore Middle School seventh grader and now a rising Austin High sophomore. He said the reunion on Thursday was very emotional. “All my memories from three years ago just rushed back in. I missed her a lot.” Lozano, a Bowie High School graduate who now attends Texas State University, agreed and added she takes pride that the series has continued and grown. “It was extremely rewarding to return to where I once called home and be able to see the new talent bringing such a beautiful light to fine arts at AISD.” Hallam is one of several 2019 participants who have been in all four summer series. He plays Benny in “In the Heights” and said he has really enjoyed learning the role because it has very challenging vocals. He mentioned on stage Thursday that he still has three more summers of eligibility for AISD summer theatre after this summer. “Being in the summer musical has resulted in some of the strongest relationships,” Hallam told MacJournalism. “I’ve never had a better theatre experience.”


Crockett senior Josh Robles (“In the Heights” ensemble), McCallum graduate Alyks Waring (head of costumes for all three @aisdsummertheatre shows) and Bowie junior Audrey Smith (props master for “In the Heights”) pose on the red carpet during Thursday’s @aisdsummertheatre preview event at the AISD Performing Arts Center. One takeaway theme from the evening was that the @austinisdsummer theatre program allows high school and middle school theatre students the chance to form lasting relationships with like-minded theatre students across the district. More than 150 students from over 30 campuses are participating this summer. Many of them will attend theatre events at other schools to support their cast members when they return to their home schools in the fall. But before that can happen, these folks have summer shows to put on.


Dr. Lisa Goodnow, associate superintendent, and Alan Lambert, AISD Fine Arts department, promote the AISD Summer Theatre Series at the Red Carpet Preview Night. The series kicks off its three-show run with “In the Heights,” opening at 7 p.m. tonight.


You might say the orchestra for the AISD Summer Theatre Series musical, “In the Heights,” has some McCallum flavor. At Thursday’s Red Carpet Preview, we caught up with the six Mac members of the orchestra for the districtwide show: Chance Green (trumpet), Jon Forbes (keyboard), Madelynn Niles (flute), Clifton Pike (trumpet), Max Hoff (guitar) and Sam Buford (guitar) will all be playing live during the four shows at the AISD Performing Arts Center.


When 2019 grad Jon Forbes descends into the AISD PAC pit to play the keyboards for the opening night performance of “In the Heights” this evening (curtain rises at 7 p.m.), he will extend his personal streak as the AISD Summer Theatre Series keyboardist to four summers. We asked him why he has devoted so much of his summers to the summer theatre series. “I just love doing musicals and being in a group of musicians and people from all over AISD.” Plus, he joked, they keep calling for him to come back and play: “I was originally asked to do it by Amon Taylor, the assistant choir director before Mrs. Mainwaring.” Ever since that initial experience on the keyboard for “The Little Mermaid,” in the summer of 2016, he said, “I love the opportunities these musicals give.” Speaking of streaks and Jon Forbes, he extended another Mac streak earlier this summer when he was named an outstanding performer in music theory after he aced his exam at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble competition at UT on June 1. According to the UIL Music Department, in order to be named an outstanding performer, a student must score 95 percent or higher on the music theory exam. Only six students in Texas achieved this result in 2019, and Forbes was one of them. According to music theory teacher Jeff Rudy, McCallum has had at least one outstanding performer in music theory for the last five years running: Nina Erichson (2015), Taylor Hallman and Lauren Molloy (2016), Paulo Santos and Calliope Davishines (2017), Matan Orent (2018) and most recently Forbes (2019). Forbes is one of six Mac musicians in the orchestra for tonight’s performance at the PAC (The others are Chance Green and Clifton Pike on trumpet, Max Hoff and Sam Buford on guitar, and Madelynn Niles on flute). Senior Sami Gade is playing the role of sassy salon owner Daniela, and graduate Alyks Waring is working behind the scenes as the head of costumes.


In a special preview performance of the title song from “In the Heights” at the Red Carpet Preview Night on Thursday, both actors who will play Usnavi De La Vega on alternate nights, Bowie senior Eric Larson and Bowie graduate and Ryder University freshman Kaedon Solana, strike a pose after the number comes to a close.


Playing the role of the Piragua Guy, Anderson junior Ari Bousquet  sings the title song during the cast’s Red Carpet Preview Night performance on Thursday at the AISD PAC.


During the Red Carpet Preview Night preformance of the title song from “In the Heights,” Bowie graduate Kaedon Solana, who will attend Ryder University, and Bowie senior Eric Larson, both play Usnavi De La Vega on the same stage. The actors will alternate playing the lead role during the actual performances beginning with Thursday’s opening night.


During the preview night, Bowie graduate Luke Evans, who will attend the University of Houston in the fall, and Crockett sophomore Xander Mancera performed a scene from “Vitamins,” one of five short plays that will be performed as part of “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability. Evans plays Mr. Roberts/Dad and Mancera plays Antonio/Alden.


Bowie junior Sydney Reinhart, one of two actors who star in the lead role of Nina Rosario in “In the Heights,” sings “Breathe” during the cast’s performance on Red Carpet Preview Night on Thursday.


At last night’s Red Carpet Preview Night, media interns Rebekah Wood and Emily Robinett encourage audience members to promote the upcoming AISD Summer Theatre Series by posting messages to their social media accounts with the hashtag, #aisdsummertheatre. Before awarding signed cast posters to the raffle winners from those who promoted the show, Wood and Robinett shared that their positive experience as high school cast members in in AISD Summer Theatre Series shows led them to come back in their current roles as media interns in order to stay involved and help grow the program.


Mac guitarist Sam Buford and Max Hoff prepare to play in the orchestra pit before the stage performances begin at the Red Carpet Preview Night in the AISD Performing Arts Center last Thursday.


During the performance of the song “Friend Like Me,” from the dual-language edition of “Disney’s Aladdin,” Crockett senior Angel Gentry (ensemble), Ann Richards sixth-grader Ariana Reyes (Genie), Crockett senior Renata Gonzales (Raja) and O’Henry Middle School sixth-grader Marissa Campos (ensemble) dance in unison.


Anderson freshman Lluvia Lara (Princess Jasmine), Bedicheck Middle School sixth-grader Mason Gentry (Magic Carpet), Bowie senior Magnus Peterson (Aladdin) and Crockett senior Adilene Garcia (Abu) smile on stage during the cast performance of “Friends Like Me” at the Red Carpet Preview Night at the AISD PAC last Thursday.


Cast members from “In the Heights” including McCallum graduate Alyks Waring and senior Sami Gade put their hands together to show solidarity for a good show in a week’s time at the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series in the AISD PAC lobby last Thursday night.


Cast members from “In the Heights” including McCallum graduate Alyks Waring and senior Sami Gade raise their arms in triumphant expectation for a good show in a week’s time at the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series in the AISD PAC lobby last Thursday night.


A large crowd of family, friends and community supporters filled the AISD PAC lobby during the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series, now in its fourth year.


Cast members from “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual-Language Edition” enjoy a moment of play while posing for a cast picture in front of the Austin Ed Fund backdrop in the AISD PAC lobby.


Bowie HS junior Austin Civatte enthusiastically offers programs to theatre patrons who attended last Thursday’s 2019 @austinisd Summer Theatre Series Red Carpet Preview Night. In addition to playing the prominent role of Kevin Rosario (the father of protagonist, Nina Rosario, and the co-owner of Rosario’s Car & Limousine) in the @aisdsummertheatre production of “In the Heights,” Civatte also made the latest video trailer leading up to tomorrow night’s opening night performance at the PAC. To view the trailer or to purchase tickets for “In the Heights” or the other two summer series shows, “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual Language Edition” or “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability,” visit the @aisdsummertheatre Insta account.

“In the Heights” opened tonight with the first of three 7 p.m. shows through Saturday. The musical has a finale matinee 3 p.m. Sunday. The following week will feature “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual Language Edition” following the same Thursday through Sunday schedule. There will also be a series of five short plays entitled “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability,” student directed by Noah Messer. “Take Five” opens Saturday July 27 at 4 p.m. with an encore performance Sunday July 28 at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit the @aisdsummertheatre Insta page and click on the link in their bio.