The Newhall Family Theatre has a long history of opening and shutting down, again and again.
More recently, in 2011, as a result of Measure E bond money, the theater went under construction to transform from a warehouse to a performing arts theater, according to Patti Rasmussen, an arts commissioner for the city of Santa Clarita.
Raising the Curtain Foundation, founded in 2018, is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the history and performing arts space of the Newhall Family Theatre.
“Raising the Curtain is a foundation that supports,” said Carol Rock, president of the nonprofit. “We don’t fix things in the building, but we support funding extra equipment that is needed or fund a special theater company.”
Rock said the foundation serves diverse audiences in organizing events or special performances to entertain and educate the SCV community. A large part of their work involves the preservation of the theater for future generations.
“Arts are so critical to anyone from any age,” Rock said. “Children, especially, because the things you learn in theater are technical skills that we wouldn’t as parents have been able to teach them. And even if kids only get arts during their school time, they’re going to use it for the rest of their life, and that’s an investment that I want to make.”
The foundation hosted its grand reopening of the Newhall Family Theatre with a free event, A Celebration of the Performing Arts, on Saturday.
The first half of the event introduced children to the creative process of theater production – including directing, costume design, makeup, set design, lighting, sound design and acting.
Skylar Spalliero, a student at Old Orchard Elementary School, attended the event with her mom, Rachel.
“(My favorite part) would be the art,” Skylar said. “The prop making and the art from designing the stage,” Rachel clarified.
Both mother and daughter said they were excited for the performances later in the day.
The second half of the celebration was an in-person two-hour performance featuring local artists in the community such as Dance Studio 84, Eclipse Theatre LA, spoken word by Jerry Danielsen, Mission Opera, Studio 1 Dance Academy and more.
Katina Childs-Muller, choreographer and director of Studio 1 Dance Academy and Innovation Show Choir, said she had two groups perform — tap dance to “Too Darn Hot” from “Kiss Me Kate” and a musical number from “Newsies.”
“We’ve been able to do a lot of competitions, they just did them differently as parents would watch digitally, but this is one of the first performances where audiences could be in a theater since COVID,” Childs-Muller said. “There’s nothing better for sure. If you’re a performer, this is what you live for, and it certainly filled the audience and our performers’ hearts.”
Additionally, her students dedicated their performances to Erwin Gallardo, the father of one of the performers and a nurse who works in the COVID-19 unit at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
Christine Pierce, director of business development at Henry Mayo, attended and watched her child perform. She also presented Gallardo with a “hometown hero” award recognizing his time serving his community.
“I was surprised,” Gallardo said. “It was my first time seeing my kids perform. They’ve competed in many shows, but since I’ve been working in the COVID unit I haven’t allowed myself to see them in person.”
He added that he felt confident attending this in-person performance because of an increase in vaccinations.
Everyone also took the time to thank any health care workers in the audience with a standing ovation.
“Everybody came together and pulled together to do this,” Rock said. “We want to reach out to the kids, and through word of mouth, and we want to do this again next year.”