Former students contribute to TCOE Theatre Company’s summer production

Three former Theatre Company performers have taken on major responsibilities for the preshow portion of the Theatre Company’s summer production. Fresh off their responsibilities of conducting the Theatre Company’s summer camp in June, alumni Lyra Paez, Tessa Hemphill, and Rahim Pullom direct the show – entitled Once Upon a Time – which will precede the production of Into the Woods.

Written by Paez and Hemphill, along with Charlotte Garcia Da Rosa, the Theatre Company’s vocal coach, the preshow is set in an audition where performers are vying for a spot in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Into the Woods. A director, played by Ella Marshall, and a dance captain, played by Tatiyana Valencia, put performers through their paces in a series of numbers from popular musicals, including Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Mulan, Peter Pan, and Frozen.

Lyra Paez, a second-year student at College of the Sequoias, spoke about the rewards of working with students as a writer and choreographer, “It’s crazy how much it’s impacted me,” she said. “If you would have asked me a few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined it. But working with Charlotte, Bethany (Rader), and McKenna (Friend-Hoffman), it’s been so rewarding to be on this side of the production, directing the performers.”

Once Upon a Time and Into the Woods opens tomorrow, July 20, at the Rotary Theater in Visalia. The small, 300-seat theater offers audiences a special connection to the cast of these enchanting shows. Evening shows will be offered July 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, and 29 beginning with the preshow at 7:00 p.m. A matinee show will be held Saturdays, July 22 and 29 – each beginning with the preshow at 1:00 p.m.

“We are blessed to have many Theatre Company alums return to help with our productions and OnStage programs at schools throughout the county,” said Bethany Rader, Theatre Company director. “A special treat this year is to have Daniel Townsend return as our orchestra director. Alongside Charlotte, he also composed a special number to celebrate our 25th summer show.”

Ticket sales will be conducted online and shows are expected to sell out. A very limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Tickets are $17.00 for general admission and $10.00 for Tulare County students, grades 1-12, with a valid ID. To purchase tickets, visit

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