Community Outreach Programs Bring Arts To All
For more than 30 years, Cabrillo Music Theatre’s talented and professional casts have been entertaining the community through popular and classical Broadway-style theatre performances. Currently in its 22nd season, “A Season for all Seasons,” CMT proudly presents three new shows — Children of Eden, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Little Mermaid — and a returning favorite – Damn Yankees, which kicks off the 2015-2016 season in October.
Demonstrating its deep-seated commitment to community well-being, CMT dedicated its current season to the community. “We’re back after an ambitious fundraising campaign, and we’re only around because of the support of our subscribers, donors and community partners,” says CMT’s Artistic Director Lewis Wilkenfeld. “The community really came through for Cabrillo Music Theatre. And, now, it’s our turn to come through with four great shows.”
All of Cabrillo’s productions are locally produced, auditioned and rehearsed in Southern California and performed exclusively at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. With a show scheduled for each season, CMT promises a year full of joyful entertainment.
The nonprofit music theatre aims to make the arts accessible to everyone, believing arts are fundamental to our humanity. Thus, for more than two decades, in addition to its spectacular performances, CMT has been providing no-cost educational and entertainment events to the community through its Beyond The Footlights community outreach programs.
Leveraging its vast community of volunteers and professional talent, Cabrillo Music Theatre’s free community programs involve people from all backgrounds and ages to engage and explore music education and entertainment. Since 2005, Beyond The Footlights programs have crossed age and socio-economic barriers to bring the arts to more than 65,000 community members free of charge.
“The Arts are a great equalizer,” says CMT’s Director of Development and Community Engagement Maureen Feldman. “When people from different backgrounds share the experience of a live performance, there is a unifying effect. For two to three hours they’re all taking the same journey.”
In 2014 alone, Cabrillo Music Theatre provided tickets, entertainment and outreach services to more than 82 local organizations, including hundreds of home-bound seniors at 14 senior centers, U.S. military members and their families and more than 2,000 low-income children attending Title 1 schools.
A recent grant from the City of Thousand Oaks will help Cabrillo Music Theatre expand its community outreach by 25 percent and further its mission to “foster educational opportunities, promote cultural and artistic enrichment, and enhance the quality of life in our community through artistic opportunities to all populations and demographics regardless of ability to pay.”
Beyond theatre performances, Cabrillo Music Theatre’s volunteers logged 30,972 hours entertaining or helping community members explore and experience the musical arts through outreach programs with local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Ventura County Naval Base, Title 1 schools, senior centers and several pet rescue and adoption services.
“Really, really, really fun,” is how 12-year-old Ashley Thomas describes the experience of taking part in CMT’s August performance of Oklahoma. “I learn so much being on stage with professional actors and I also love having fun backstage with my friends. I love the theatre and plan to be in theatre forever.”
As a member of Kabrillo Kids, an educational theatre experience CMT offers for kids and teens, Ashley and 9-year-old sister Taylor enjoy entertaining home-bound seniors at the many senior centers the group visits.
“It feels like the whole world is lit up, seeing the joy on people’s faces when we perform for them,” says Ashley. “It makes us happy, to make people smile.”
The key to a successful performance, advises Taylor, who also intends to be in the theatre “forever,” is to “Be happy, smile and have a good time.”
The many educational and social benefits gained through participating in Kabrillo Kids are pretty rewarding, says Ginny Grady, who witnessed them firshand when her own daughter Tessa took part in Cabrillo Music Theatre for 10 years. Now serving as the director of the Children’s Division for CMT, Grady views her job as a way of giving back.
“I have the best job in the world,” says Ginny. “Watching the lightbulbs go on when they understand it’s not them on stage, but a character,” is one of her favorite aspects of the job. “The kids are like little beams of light.”
For more information about Cabrillo Music Theatre, call 805.497.8613.