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8 June 2 - 15, 2012 Copperstar FROM PAGE 1


been in our shows, and sometimes whole families take part. There’s really nothing else like it in the East Valley.” Okawa, a long-time professional


performer and performing arts teacher, started Copperstar after taking a job in Higley.


“The Higley Center didn’t have anyone doing theatre,” recalls the Chandler resident. “No one in the community was using that facility or renting that facility or working with them to do any theatre. I had high school and junior high kids who just didn’t have the opportunities I thought would be valuable.” Copperstar’s unsalaried production team includes Okawa, music director


Community


Sam Henderson and choreographer Laura Christian. A professional orchestra is brought in for each show. Still, the vast majority of talent is drawn directly from the local community. Shows average 55 cast members with around the same number working behind the scenes. Before performances, volunteers build sets, sew costumes and help with rehearsals. “We estimate it takes about 800


volunteer hours to put a show together,” says Okawa, explaining that cast members, who rehearse six days a week for five weeks prior to opening night, are required to volunteer in other ways, as well.


“It’s a commitment of time, it’s a


commitment of resources. It really is a hands-on experience all the way around.”


Along with dedicating their time, cast members make a monetary donation to Copperstar, which also receives support from grants and private contributions. Copperstar recently launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise $25,000 for office, rehearsal and shop space, and the group is currently seeking additional board members, including a treasurer and legal advisor. “I’ve always believed once people see


we’re here, once they know what we do, Copperstar will become an important


BRINGING THEATRE TO THE DESERT: Copperstar Repertory Co. founder Mary-Jo Okawa is introducing East Valley residents to the joy of watching and participating in community theatre. Submitted photo


part of their community for them, too,” says Okawa. “Last year we had a family of six


do ‘The King and I,’” she adds. “Those people will remember that the rest of their lives, even if they never do it again. Can you imagine, doing a musical with your mom and dad, brother and sister? That, to me, is what it’s all about.” To learn more about Copperstar


Repertory Co.’s upcoming season, workshops, volunteer and giving opportunities, including crowdfunding, call 480-699-1655 or visit www.copperstarrep.org. K. M. Lang lives and writes in


LOCAL TALENT: Anna entertains her students in Copperstar’s 2012 musical “The King and I.” Copperstar performed matinees of “The King and I” to more than 3,000 local students. Left to right: Katie Lucas, Haley Chamberlain, Lois Zozobrado, Haley Baker, Nancy Button, Abigail Barney, Danika Kussy, Liam Barney and Cameron Pinion in the back. Submitted photo


Sun Groves. To contact her, email KMLang@SanTanSun.com.


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