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Saugus High grad, Broadway star helps put on performance workshop for SCV students

Posted: January 31, 2016 10:41 a.m.
Updated: January 31, 2016 10:41 a.m.
Megan Hartung, 16, center, and Tess Ceballos, 17, right, of Saugus High join about 100 drama and chorus students from Valencia and Saugus High Schools as they rehearse a dance from Broadway show  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  Photo by DAN WATSON  Megan Hartung, 16, center, and Tess Ceballos, 17, right, of Saugus High join about 100 drama and chorus students from Valencia and Saugus High Schools as they rehearse a dance from Broadway show  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  Photo by DAN WATSON 
Megan Hartung, 16, center, and Tess Ceballos, 17, right, of Saugus High join about 100 drama and chorus students from Valencia and Saugus High Schools as they rehearse a dance from Broadway show  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  Photo by DAN WATSON 
Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez critiques a performance as about 100 drama and choirs students form Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse on the stage at Valencia High School on Saturday.  photo by DAN WATSON   Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez critiques a performance as about 100 drama and choirs students form Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse on the stage at Valencia High School on Saturday.  photo by DAN WATSON  
Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez critiques a performance as about 100 drama and choirs students form Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse on the stage at Valencia High School on Saturday.  photo by DAN WATSON  
About 100 drama and chorus student from Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse a dance from Broadway show,  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  013016  DAN WATSON   About 100 drama and chorus student from Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse a dance from Broadway show,  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  013016  DAN WATSON  
About 100 drama and chorus student from Valencia and Saugus High Schools rehearse a dance from Broadway show,  "Newsies" in the multi-purpose room at Valencia High School on Saturday.  013016  DAN WATSON  
Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez, right, poses for a photo with James Meske, 17,  of Valencia High School during a two-day performance workshop at Valencia High School on Saturday. photo by  DAN WATSON Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez, right, poses for a photo with James Meske, 17,  of Valencia High School during a two-day performance workshop at Valencia High School on Saturday. photo by  DAN WATSON
Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez, right, poses for a photo with James Meske, 17,  of Valencia High School during a two-day performance workshop at Valencia High School on Saturday. photo by  DAN WATSON
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A Broadway star returned home to the Santa Clarita Valley this weekend to help show the ropes to more than 100 young performers from Saugus and Valencia high schools.

Staging the performance workshop Friday and Saturday at Valencia High School were professionals from Young Performers of America, including Broadway star and Saugus High School graduate Mandy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez grew up in Saugus and has since gone on to star in a number of Broadway shows, including “Wicked” and “In the Heights.”

Getting to come back to work with high-schoolers in her hometown was “incredible,” said Gonzalez, who is also creative director of Young Performers of America.

“I love working with students, seeing their passion for theater and trying to help them bring that to life,” she said Saturday.

It’s a passion Gonzalez understands well. Being involved in programs like drama and theater “really saved me in high school,” she says, by helping her find a where she felt she belonged.

The one thing missing from that experience, she said, was being able to collaborate and connect with students from other schools.

“I’m hoping that this program is able to do that,” she said, “because the arts really should be celebrated out here.”

For Christine Tavares-Mocha, the choral and vocal director at Valencia, the best part of the workshop was seeing students come out of their shells.

“When you watch your kids start growing ... it’s really inspiring as a teacher,” she said Saturday. “It’s what we live for as teachers.”

Though not all the students who participated in the workshop may aspire to be on a Broadway stage some day, Tavares-Mocha said she hopes they all come away inspired to chase their dreams.

“Whatever it is, aspire to it and work toward that goal,” she said. “And have the grit and perseverance to do it rather than just dream about it.”

The students showcased their two days of hard work Saturday night with a pair of performances at Valencia High School.

Gonzalez said she thinks Saturday’s performances brought “a little bit of Broadway to Santa Clarita” and that she hopes to bring the program back in the future.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

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