Two End Of Summer Fundraising Events Will Support Rubicon's Education Programs

Two End Of Summer Fundraising Events Will Support Rubicon's Education Programs

Rubicon Theatre wraps up its extraordinary 2019 Jack Oakie Summer Youth Program with the annual Kids for Kids fundraiser. This year's concert is titled "Broadway Through the Ages." This exuberant evening of song and dance will be guided entirely by student directors, choreographers and designers, and will feature some of Broadway's hottest tunes including "Epic 2" (Hadestown), "God, I Hate Shakespeare" (Something Rotten), "A Change in Me" (Beauty and the Beast), "Astounding" (Little Women), "Your Daddy's Son" (Ragtime), "Nowadays" (Chicago), "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease), "Nothing" (A Chorus Line), and more! Songs will be performed by students from across all of the summer programs.

"This high-octane song-fest is not to be missed. The evening is exceptional because it is truly a celebration of what our kids accomplish every summer. Its magic lies in the fact that kids are creating their own show to benefit other kids," says co-Education director Beverly Ward.

Education co-director Kirby Ward says, "It's a special thing to see our young performers using their talents so that more kids their age can also do something great."

This year, the Jack Oakie Summer Youth Program produced Into the Woods, Once on this Island, and Giants in the Sky andThe Tempest.

For the past 17 years, Rubicon has committed to meeting the financial assistance need of every student participating in the theatre training programs based solely on talent and interest. Whether students apply for a full or partial scholarship, they are welcomed into classes and camps. That policy makes the continuation of the Rubicon Summer Youth Program vitally important to the students and families of Ventura County. Kids for Kids is the single biggest fundraising event for Rubicon's scholarship effort.

Cast members include participants from the summer program: Aliza Barroca, Samarra Blanson, Abby Block, Alyssa Hurd, Skyler Klemann, Coree Kotula, Aurora McLean, Zach Meade, Daniel Metten, Chiya Newman, Lilly Newton, Louis Santia, Tessa Shindin, Riley Stork, Ren Tallent, Luke Pfeifer and Sophia Rocha.

This benefit concert is sponsored by Janet and Mark L. Goldenson and the event is also produced in association with the Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne OAKIE FOUNDATION, represented by David Sonne.

KIDS FOR KIDS-BROADWAY THROUGH THE AGES will be performed one night only on Sunday August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 East Main Street in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. Advance tickets are $25.00 (plus a $4 service fee). Tickets at the door will be an additional $5.00. Balcony seats are available for $15.00. The show is recommended for all ages. For tickets, visit or call Guest Services at 805-667-2900.

The life and writings of Emily Dickinson, one of America's most treasured poets, comes vividly to life in a one-night-only reprise of the acclaimed Ojai Arts Center production of The Belle of Amherst by William Luce. The production is presented on Saturday, August 31st at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre Company as a benefit for Rubicon's Education and Outreach programs, and stars Ojai actor and choreographer Anna Kotula (Mamma Mia!) under the direction of Steve Grumette, Artistic Director of the Ojai Film Festival. Tickets are $25; VIP tickets are $35 and include a champagne and cake reception with the artist. All proceeds are tax-deductible. For tickets, go to or call 805.667.2900.

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts and is a towering figure in 19th century literature. She was the middle child born to Emily and Edward Dickinson. Her grandfather, part of a prominent New England family, founded Amherst College and her father was a trustee of the college and a state legislator. Dickinson wrote nearly 1,800 poems and letters, but very few were published in her lifetime. It was not until after her death that she became one of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century.

Dickinson attended Amherst for seven years and Mount Holyoke for a year before returning home for reasons that have long been debated by critics and scholars. Some feel that she was fragile emotionally and suffered from agoraphobia and depression, while other biographers indicate she came home only to care for her ailing mother.

Regardless, Dickinson had few close friendships, seldom left her Amherst home, and wrote many of her poems and letters unbeknownst to her family.

After Emily's death at the age of 55, her sister Lavinia found hundreds of poems that Emily had crafted over the years. The first volume of her works was published in 1890; however a full compilation, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, wasn't published until 1955.

William Luce's The Belle of Amherst is based on Emily Dickinson's life from 1830 to 1886. It is set in her family home and uses Dickinson's diaries, letters and poems to recreate encounters with the few people to whom she was close -- family, friends and acquaintances who were significant influences on her poetry.

The Belle of Amherst originally opened on Broadway in 1976 starring Julie Harris and was directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. The production ran for 116 performances, garnering a Tony Award for Harris and a Drama Desk for Unique Theatrical Experience. The production was later recorded (winning a Grammy Award), televised on PBS, and has been performed in multiple language on stages throughout the world.

The Arts Center production was praised for balancing Dickinson's solitary life with the lively, witty, provocative and independent woman revealed in Dickinson's own writings. As the production unfolds, audiences experience Dickinson as a vibrant genius with a robust sense of self.

When Anna Kotula first performed The Belle of Amherst at the Ojai Art Center Theater last December, the show quickly sold-out. Reviewer Sami Zahringer of Ojai Valley News wrote, "Actress Anna Kotula of Ojai robustly fleshes out the myth of Dickinson, making of her a real-life presence we can warm to personally, not just on the page. No quaintly spectral, shrinking violet here, Dickinson has girlish vivacity, wit and charm, captured by Kotula who manages to preserve the ephemeral luminosity of Dickinson that has fascinated us on the page for the best part of 200 years."

Zahringer further effused, "Kotula takes the extraordinary challenge of playing this off-kilter genius, meets it and, under Steve Grumette's direction, molds it captivatingly across two hours of riveting, first-rate theatre. Dickinson fans will rejoice in this performance, but people new to Dickinson will find a 'phosphorescent' new world of language and perspective."

"Emily boldly pierces our assumptions about who we are and how we are created," says Kotula.

"She was an avid reader, had a great fondness for nature, and was a deep thinker with a love of language," continues Kotula. "I find that the play offers original and remarkable insights into this life and the beyond and am excited to bring The Belle of Amherst to Rubicon as a fundraiser for these programs that enrich our community and that have been important to my family and to me."

Anna's daughter Coree recently starred a Ti Moune in Once on This Island, Jr. as a part of Rubicon's summer education programs and opened last weekend in Into the Woods as a part of the Musical Theatre Intensive. Coree also played Fan in Rubicon's mainstage production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

According to Anna, "Rubicon education programs have been a formative part of Coree's growth as an artist and as a young woman. She has developed and refined her skills as an actor, singer and dancer and gained confidence through the opportunities she has had at Rubicon."

"I appreciate the professional training opportunities Rubicon offers to young people in our region," says Kotula, "and approached the company about bringing the show there to contribute to the scholarship fund which makes it possible for students to be a part of the summer programs who might not otherwise be able to participate."

The benefit performance of The Belle of Amherst is presented on Saturday, August 31, at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. VIP tickets include preferred seating and a reception with the artist where champagne will be served, along with a slice of "Black Cake" specially made using Dickinson's famous recipe. Other tickets are $25.

For more information, or to order tickets, call 805.667.2900 or go to

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