CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop Aims to Strengthen Family Values with Productions of ‘Mary Poppins Jr.’ & ‘James and the Giant Peach Jr.’

Strengthening the emotional bonds that tie families together is one of the themes explored in this summer’s productions by California State University, Northridge’s 2018 Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW).

The plays, “Mary Poppins Jr.” and “James and the Giant Peach Jr.,” are scheduled for several performances by TADW throughout July at CSUN’s theaters, located in Nordhoff Hall on the southwest side of campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

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“Mary Poppins Jr.” according to TADW Executive Director Garry Lennon, is about exploring what makes a family, and getting people to recognize the things that are around them every day.

“’Mary Poppins’ magic is really about getting people to notice and acknowledge the beauty and family all around [them], and the community and people who are there to help,” he said. “So, it’s more about creating family and creating community and how important that is.”

“James and the Giant Peach Jr.,” Lennon said, will also explore the concept of family, with music by Tony-, Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning songwriting team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

“The thing that’s really remarkable about this production is that it’s staged in a really innovative way, and the music is really outstanding,” Lennon said. “It’s very contemporary, Broadway-sounding music and the show hasn’t even made it to Broadway yet. So, it’s exciting to be doing something that’s that new.”

Production Manager Eric White said that the program requires a lot of learning on the go, but also provides TADW’s participants with a great opportunity to build and strengthen skills that are transferable to different careers.

“Theater is an artform that teaches teamwork and how to collaborate, and you can use the skills you learn in theater in other disciplines of art and in other careers,” White said. “I like seeing young people get involved in theater because I know, had I known about this program when I was their age, I would have done it for sure.”

This year’s Managing Director, Erin Matthews, shared White’s enthusiasm for providing youth with the opportunity to be involved in theater production.

“The Teenage Drama Workshop is an incredible opportunity for kids to learn all about theater and all of its different aspects,” Matthews said. “They take classes in acting, singing, dancing, and they can choose an
elective. We also have a technical track, which allows students to spend all day working behind the scenes learning lights, sound equipment, working on scenery and most of the behind-the-scenes work, which is my background. So, I really love the program.”

“James and the Giant Peach Jr.,” is scheduled for performances on July 6, and 13, at 7 p.m., and July 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20, at 11 a.m., with a special “sensory friendly” performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.

“Mary Poppins Jr.,” is scheduled for performances on July 11, and 13, at 7 p.m., and July 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 11 a.m., with a special “sensory friendly” performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 14.

For more information visit http://www.csun.edu/teenage-drama-workshop.

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