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Arts news from Napa Valley College

Arts news from Napa Valley College

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Napa Valley College (NVC) will hold auditions for its fall 2021 show lineup, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, on the Performing Arts Center main stage. 

The productions include “All Together Now!” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” along with “Elf The Musical, Jr.” presented in partnership with Cafeteria Kids Theater.

For Music Theater International’s “All Together Now!: A Global Event Celebrating Local Theater”  Napa Valley College will be joining thousands of theatrical organizations around the globe to present its own version of “All Together Now!”, featuring well-loved songs from musical theater.

Directed by Olivia Cowell with music direction by Dr. Christina Howell, NVC’s production of “All Together Now!” will explore ensemble pieces and solos over an 8-week rehearsal period. Performances will take place Nov. 12-14 to an in-person audience and live-streamed to a virtual audience.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” directed by Jessica Romero, is part of Napa Valley College’s holiday offerings. A faithful stage adaptation of the classic animated television special, it features Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts Gang as they discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The second holiday special, “Elf the Musical Jr.,” is based on the hilarious holiday film that follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. Directed by Olivia Cowell and Aimée Guillot with music direction by Dr. Christina Howell, this production is produced in partnership with Cafeteria Kids Theater.

Auditions for “Elf Jr.” are open to ages 12 and above. information on class tuition and enrollment for cast members 12-15 can be found at www.cafeteriakidstheater.org. Those cast in the production who are 16 years or older will enroll in the corresponding Napa Valley College Theater Arts course upon admission.

For all three productions, auditions for ages 12-15 are 5 to 6 p.m., and auditions for ages 12 are 6 to 8 p.m.

Auditioners should prepare a 1-minute song from a musical theater production and a joke to share and bring a clearly marked copy of piano sheet music for their song selection for the accompanist

All individuals cast in any of the three Napa Valley College fall 2021 productions are required to be fully vaccinated before the start of rehearsals.

For more detailed audition inquiries,  email christina.howell@napavalley.edu or olivia.cowell@napavalley.edu.

The Performing Arts Center is on the main NVC campus at 2277 Napa Valley Highway.

Stagecraft at NVC

This fall, students can learn stagecraft from acclaimed technical director, recording and sound engineer and set builder, Matthew Cowell, who is teaching Stagecraft (THEA 141), a 15-week course on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 4:55 p.m. at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.

“Matthew Cowell is one of the greatest assets to the performing arts at Napa Valley College and Napa Valley community,” said Jennifer King, chairwoman of NVC's Arts and Humanities and performing arts artistic director “He is a multi-faceted theater worker who creates an environment where the art of making theater behind the scenes is as compelling as the work on stage.”

Cowell is the technical director for Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center and adjunct faculty in both theater and music. With a bachelor’s degree in theater and performance studies from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in theology and film studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, he has worked with Grammy, Academy and Tony Award-winning artists at Skywalker Sound, Berkeley Rep and the Lincoln Theater, and has designed sound for American Conservatory Theater, UC Berkeley, Globetrotting Shakespeare and Shakespeare Napa Valley, among others. Cowell is also an accomplished recording engineer, sound engineer, fight director, actor and drummer. 

Stagecraft (THEA 141) is an introduction to technical theater and the creation of scenic elements. Course content includes basic concepts of design, painting techniques, set construction, set movement, prop construction, backstage organization and career possibilities.

The course credits are transferable to UC and CSU and applicable to all theater arts AA degrees. High school students can enroll via dual enrollment and receive college credit. The course is also perfect for lifelong learners who want to experience theater behind the scenes while learning lighting, sound, painting and carpentry skills.

“I am very excited to be teaching stagecraft again this fall because that means that we are back on stage, ready to perform live theater again. It is exhilarating to be back teaching in person after being out of the classroom during COVID.” said Cowell. “There is a certain energy in watching the students learn how to build a set, focus lights and run a light board — all of which is best done in the classroom. The pandemic has changed the way we create live theater, and I am thrilled to explore all mediums of theater-making with our students."

Napa Valley College Director of Vocal Studies Dr. Christina Howell has come up with an innovative way for her Chorale students to keep singing during the pandemic.

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